Johannesburg - A doctor, who was implicated in the botched relocation of Life Esidimeni patients to unlicensed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Gauteng, told the alternative dispute resolution committee that the NGOs were up to standard during inspection and were issued with licenses. 

Gauteng director of mental health, Dr Makgabo Manamela was implicated after the Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba released a report in February on over 140 patients who died as a result of the botched transfer.

In his report, Makgoba said 108 patients died as a result of the transfer, meaning they died of starvation and dehydration after being transferred from Life Esidimeni to 27 unlicensed NGOs.

Makgoba said he found overcrowding in five NGOs. They had poor financial resources and there was no food.

"We made it clear to NGOs that if you feel the need to expand its fine but we are not forcing anyone," Manamela said in her testimony.

Manamela was appointed as the deputy manager of the project to transfer 1,700 to different institutions. Some patients were transferred to the care of their families, NGOs and hospitals. As a result, more than 140 patients died due to the rushed process.

Manamela explained that she was also in charge of issuing licenses to the  NGOs and according to her knowledge, only one NGO was operating without a license.

"We called NGOs that we knew that were licensed and were already on our database..We had a task team that assessed and evaluated the NGOs to see their capabilities."

She said she was satisfied with the report from her task team hence she authorised the licenses.

Head of the arbitration Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke asked Manana why so many patients died if her duties were executed properly.

"I didn't say that everything was perfect, there were issues of treatment, medical records, clothing and other things," she replied.

Moseneke asked if Manana had the reports she relied on when issuing the licenses, she said she did not have them, they were maybe on her work laptop.

"When doing inspection, these NGOs were suitable, there are records. Problems came after the patients were placed," Manana said.

Moseneke insisted to know why patients died if the operation was done accordingly.

Manana said her duties with the patients ended after they were transported to different institutions and she was also disturbed after patients started dying.

Moseneke told Manana: "Its not about transportation, its about the place where you took them to and the conditions they were under".
He was also concerned that the NGOs did not have doctors on site and occupational therapists.

Manana responded: "We have the NGO a links to clinics and hospitals they should be working with, its not a must that a NGO should have doctors full time."

Moseneke continued to ask Manana about the flawed process in transferring patients, he indicated to Manana that there was evidence that some of the NGOs went unpaid for more than three months.

"Why did you transfer patients without making arrangements of payment to the NGOs? What did you think the patients were going to eat?" Moseneke asked.

Manana said arrangements were made to pay the NGOs within a month after they received the patients but she struggled to explain the reason for the delay.

Former MEC of Health in Gauteng Qedani Mahlangu along with her department head, Dr Tiego Selebano have also been subpoenaed to testify at the hearings.

Manamela is expected to continue with her testimony on Tuesday.