Families expressed unease over removal of patients from Life Esidimeni facility, inquest hears
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Johannesburg - Levy Mosenogi, a Department of Health official, has told the Life Esidimeni inquest of how resistant families of psychiatric patients were when told the government was terminating its contract with Life Esidimeni Group.
Mosenogi was the chief director for planning, policy, and research for the Gauteng department of health.
In December 2015, he was appointed as project leader to oversee the moving of patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to various NGOs. A total of 144 patients died following this move.
Mosenogi was appearing at the inquest being heard virtually by the High Court in Pretoria.
Mosenogi explained that he had not been involved in signing off on terminating the contract with Life Esidimeni as he was only officially appointed as a project manager in December 2015. The decision, he said, was taken before his appointment.
Mosenogi explained that he was the leader but had been part of a broader team which included Dr Makgabo Manamela and head of department Barney Selebano.
His assignment was to ensure that the project to move patients was concluded by March 2016. He said in January 2016, he and other officials began visits to Life Esidimeni facilities. The visits were to Waverley Care Centre in Germiston and Randfontein Care Centre.
Staff and families were present during the meetings, which were set to explain the termination of the contract. Mosenogi said families expressed concern over patients and questioned why the department had taken a drastic decision to terminate the contract.
Staff members at Life Esidimeni were concerned about how well the patients would deal with the move.
Mosenogi said former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu told the meeting that the contract was being terminated because of budget concerns and a possible contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
"The people were not satisfied with the closure of Waverley – we were Waverley at the time. They were not happy about the closure of facilities. Students also raised their concerns, so many other issues were raised. Out of that meeting, it was decided that they must form a family representative committee," Mosenogi said.