Former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday demanded that former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, who resigned amid a scandal in which more than 100 mentally ill patients died when they were tragically transferred to unlicensed NGOs, be brought before the Esidemini hearings.

DA member of the provincial legislature (MPL), Jack Bloom, said: "I am dismayed that former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu is not on the list of witnesses to appear before the alternative dispute resolution hearings presided over by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

"She is undoubtedly the prime cause of the Esidimeni tragedy in which at least 118 mental patients died when she persisted in moving them to unsuitable NGOs despite all the warnings that this would result in disaster.

"I support the demand by bereaved relatives that she be subpoenaed to explain her actions and hopefully express sincere remorse that could assist the families with the healing process."

Bloom said Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who is due to give evidence, should be quizzed as to why "he ignored the pleas to halt the Esidimeni transfers, and did not fire Mahlangu after she disclosed that 36 patients had died in response to my questions in the Legislature on 13 September last year".

The DA MPL said lives could have been saved if Makhura had acted speedily against Mahlangu when it became clear that lives were being lost.

"Makhura should also be asked why the ANC's Integrity Committee has not censured Mahlangu who is still a member of the ANC's provincial executive in Gauteng," said Bloom.

At the hearings in Parktown, Johannesburg, on Monday heath ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba said the actions, including starvation, which led to the deaths of 118 Life Esidimeni patients showed "a total disregard for human dignity and human respect".