Former deputy director of clinical services in Gauteng Dr Richard Lebethe continues to give evidence at the inquiry into the ill-fated transfer of patients from the Life Esidimeni centre to NGOs across Gauteng. Screengrab from Judiciary RSA live feed
Former deputy director of clinical services in Gauteng Dr Richard Lebethe continues to give evidence at the inquiry into the ill-fated transfer of patients from the Life Esidimeni centre to NGOs across Gauteng. Screengrab from Judiciary RSA live feed

LIVE FEED: Life Esidimeni Inquest - September 14, 2021

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Sep 14, 2021

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The Life Esidimeni inquest resumes this morning and will hear further evidence from the former director-general of clinical services in Gauteng.

Dr Richard Lebethe will face another day of cross-examination.

On Monday he continued to distance himself from active involvement in the Life Esidimeni patient removal project.

The inquest, heard virtually in the High Court Pretoria, is investigating whether anyone should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 psychiatric patients who died after they were moved to several NGOs in 2016.

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Lebethe, during questioning, repeatedly distanced himself from active involvement in the project to move the patients.

He insisted that he only became involved once deaths were reported at some of the NGOs.

Lawyer advocate Lufuno Maphanywa questioned Lebethe on the deaths reported at Takalani, an NGO in Soweto.

A total of 15 patients died at the facility.

Maphanywa asked Lebethe why he recommended the NGO?

It emerged that Lebethe had paid a visit to the NGO before patients were allocated to it and recommended its appointment.

He added that he saw the facility fit to provide accommodation for the patients.

"Takalani was an active NGO, there was a ward placed aside for the use by mental health users and there was a plan to transfer them there. I was in Bara and had a look at it and walked around," he told the inquest.

Maphanywa further asked Lebethe what he made of the final outcome, particularly with the death of the 15 patients.

Evidence leader Pieter Luyt interjected and objected to the relevance of the questions posed by Maphanywa.

The question was later dismissed by Judge Mmonoa Teffo.

In the second part of his cross-examination, Lebethe was questioned by Advocate Thabang Pooe - a legal representative to the families of the 44 patients who died.

Pooe’s questions focused on Lebethe’s testimony and his assertion that he was never actively involved in the project to move patients.

He denied any knowledge of two letters and correspondence from concerned health officials who apparently had warned against moving psychiatric patients in large groups.

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