Johannesburg - “Why did you resign?” This was the question retired deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke put to former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu just before the inquiry adjourned for lunch.
Mahlangu resigned from her position last year just before the release of Health Ombudsman Dr Malegapuru Makgoba’s report into the Life Esidimeni.
“Am I supposed to answer now?” Mahlangu asked. Moseneke allowed her to think about the question during the lunch break.
During the second session of the day Mahlangu continued to deny that she knew anything about the the day-to-day running of the Gauteng health department.
Mahlangu said the decision to shut down the Life Esidimeni facility “was a collective” one and was not made by an individual.
She said some of the people in the collective included former HOD Dr Tiego Selebano and head of mental health Dr Makgabo Manamela. She also insisted that premier David Makhura knew about the closure and implementation of the marathon project. Makhura has always denied knowing about the project.
Mahlangu said Selebano and Manamela misled her and Makhura about the project. “I had no reason to doubt their professional conduct.” She said she believed them because they are medical professionals.
During their testimonies, the two have said Mahlangu instructed them to go through with the project. They also said they were scared of her and that’s why they followed her instructions. Mahlangu said the law protects employees who didn’t want to follow unlawful instructions from their superiors.
“I would never turn a blind eye to something that would put a patients life in danger. I didn’t know,” Mahlangu said.
Mahlangu said that Selebano never informed her about major problems in the project. Mahlangu said she only realised there were problems in July 2016 when the media stared asking questions.
She said once she realised there were problems, she visited the NGOs to see for herself.
“It concerned me that NGOs we had entrusted with mental health were not paid on time. That’s why I requested the HOD and CFO to intervene,” Mahlangu said.
Protests outside the venue continued during the lunch break. Family representative Nomvula Nonjabe said:”Qedani Mahlangu is a killer. She has done this before when she moved children to NGOs in Soweto where they died.”
After the break Mahlangu will be questioned by Section 27's advocate Adila Hassim.