Prisoners wait 8 months for psychiatric evaluation

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

Awaiting trial prisoners who need psychiatric assessment will wait 8 months to be admitted to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital in Pretoria because only 14 out of 42 available beds are in use.

This information is provided by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Unlike the speedy assessment provided to Oscar Pistorius, 79 awaiting trial prisoners from Mpumalanga and North West provinces will wait 8 months for a forensic observation.

The waiting time for 11 Gauteng prisoners is two months.

But according to Mahlangu, 28 out of 42 Forensic Observation beds at Weskoppies are unoccupied because “lack of SAPS guarding makes it impossible to utilize the section to its full capacity as it is mainly populated by high-risk waiting trial prisoners.”

The backlog is also caused by “2 or 3 psychiatrist panel assessments for major charges (e.g. murder, rape, robbery).”

It is distressing that delays in court trials are caused because there are not enough police to assist the hospital in guarding dangerous prisoners..

This can surely be fixed fairly easily so that all available beds are used to speed up trials where psychiatric evaluation is required.