Dikeledi Manaka a nurse at one of the NGO's which admitted patients from Life Esidimeni testified that their facility was forced to accommodate more patients than they could handle. PHOTO: Brenda Masilela/ANA

Johannesburg - A nurse employed in Cullinan east of Pretoria, at Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre (CCRC), one of the NGO's which admitted patients from Gauteng's Life Esidimeni, testified at the arbitration hearings on Tuesday, that their facility was forced to accommodate patients they could not handle.

Dikeledi Manaka told the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings that in May 2016, they were told to fetch 10 patients in Randfotein but ended up coming back with 26 patients.

Manaka said the selection criteria in accessing patients and identifying whether their facility would be able handle them was never followed.

She explained that on the day, they told the staff in Randfotein that they were directed to fetch 10 patients, however, were told to fill up their bus with patients.

"We told them we came with a 27 seater bus and they said we can't take ten, we must take as much as the bus can carry."

The nurse told the alternative dispute resolution committee that they tried to defy what they were told but were overpowered when a lady by the name of Salome Mashile called former director of mental health in Gauteng Makgabo Manamela and informed him that they were reluctant to take more than 10 patients.

Manaka said the same year, she received a call from Manamela informing her that nine more patients were already on the way to their facility.

Manamela is expected to testify on Monday, after being subpoenaed on an urgent basis by lawyers representing the families of those who died.

Retired deputy Chief Justice and head of the arbitration process Dikgang Moseneke asked Manaka what her thoughts were about the number of people who went to the NGO, even though they did not fit the criteria of the health care institution.

"We tried as the lower category of managers to warn them that this is not right. We wanted to take a small group that we would manage, the way it was done, it was like a bomb to us. We have time to build rapport with patients," Manaka replied. 

To control overcrowding, Manaka said they transferred other patients to other facilities.

She conceded that even the transferring process was not properly administered, as nurses were tasked with discharging patients without assistance from doctors or psychiatrists. 

Dikeledi Manaka a nurse at one of the NGO's which admitted patients from Life Esidimeni testified that their facility was forced to accommodate more patients than they could handle. PHOTO: Brenda Masilela/ANA

Manaka said they were acting under the instructions of the CEO of the facility Matshidiso Nyatlo, who is a radiographer by profession.

Earlier, Dr Mavuso Talatala a specialist psychiatrists told the hearing that the Gauteng Department of Health ignored professional advice when they were cautioned about the transfer of psychological patients and their well being.

Talatala who was the President of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SAPO) at the time,  said he wrote two letters and on two occasions took the department to court and had meetings with them in an effort to warn them of the dangers of closing the mental facility and was ignored.

At least 141 patients died at various unlicensed NGO's across the province after they were moved from Life Esidimeni, part of a private health care group.

Former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has been widely blamed for the botched relocation of more than  3000 Life Esidimeni patients to unlicensed NGO's. Fifty nine of the patients are still unaccounted for.

Mahlangu has been subpoenaed to appear before the arbitration hearing in December.

Another top official subpoenaed to appear is head of provincial department of health Barney Selebano.