Qedani Mahlangu: Premier David Makhura took the decision to transfer Life Esidimeni patients
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Johannesburg - Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has blamed Premier David Makhura for the transfer of mental health patients from Life Esidimeni to bogus care centres, where 144 of them died.
Mahlangu’s shocking remarks were made in her opening remarks, through her legal counsel, advocate Lawrence Hodes SC, during an inquest hearing into the death of the patients in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday.
Hodes told Judge Mnonoa Teffo, who is presiding over the hearing, that Mahlangu was not personally responsible for the transfer of the patients.
“Instead, she acted on advice from medical experts of the Gauteng Health Department and those who were clinically responsible for mental health patients.
“The ultimate decision to transfer the mental health patients was taken by the premier,” Mahlangu said in her opening address before Judge Teffo.
Hodes presented Mahlangu’s opening remarks after Section27, which represents family of some of the deceased patients, asked Judge Teffo to consider retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke’s arbitration findings that the care centres the patients were transferred to from Life Esidimeni were sites of “torture and death traps”.
Section27 also argued that Mahlangu and her former head of department, Dr Barney Selebano, as well as Dr Magapo Manamela ignored warnings from it, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group and various civil society organisations, including psychologists, against the transfer of patients.
The court further heard that Sadag lodged a court application to stop the transfer and that application was vehemently opposed by the Gauteng Health Department.
Sadag and the Gauteng Health Department reached an out of court settlement to consult each other before any decision was made to move the patients. The provincial government reneged on the decision.
Section27 asked the judge to make a finding that all three officials, Mahlangu included, be held criminally responsible for the deaths of 144 patients.
It asked that charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm as well as contravention of the Mental Health Act be considered against all three of them.
Section27 also wants similar charges to be brought against the owners of the care centres.
The hearing continues.