IN A shocking incident, a psychiatric patient was allegedly beaten to death by another patient in hospital on Monday.

According to witnesses, the 69-year-old victim was suddenly attacked for no apparent reason at Ngwelezane Hospital in Empangeni, northern KZN.

Following the incident, the DA wrote a letter to Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, demanding an inquiry into the incident.

Provincial DA health spokesman Imran Keeka said severely psychotic patients had to be observed for 72 hours before being allowed to mix freely with other patients. He said it was clear safety precautions had not been taken at the hospital.

“We have no doubt the MEC will find staff shortages and gaps in security contributed to what happened,” he said. KZN police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed a case of murder was opened.

The department’s Agiza Hlongwane released a statement saying the victim was allegedly attacked while he was asleep.

“The alleged culprit (51) arrived at the hospital on Saturday and was admitted on Sunday as a normal patient. There is no evidence at this stage he was a psychotic patient,” the department stated. Staff apparently heard screaming and found the victim being punched by the attacker. The victim died of his injuries while the attacker was sedated and put in isolation.”

The department said it was investigating the matter.