Legal representative for Section 27 advocate Adila Hassim argued that former MEC of health Qedani Mahlangu's testimony was not useful to the arbitration and didn't provide any answers. Picture: ANA

Johannesburg - Civil society group Section 27 representative advocate Adila Hassim told the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings into the deaths of 140 mentally ill patients that former MEC of health Qedani Mahlangu's testimony was of no use to the arbitration.

She said evidence has not provided an answer as to why the Life Esidimeni contract was cancelled in the first place.

Hassim was arguing on Thursday in a bid to influence the outcome of the remedies retired chief justice Dikgang Moseneke will recommend at the end of the arbitration.

She pointed out numerous letters which were sent to several officials in the department, including Mahlangu and former Health HOD Dr Barney Selebano, and how they failed to reply to the communication.

She dismissed Mahlangu and Selebano's testimony that they didn't see the letter about the litigation to stop the department from transferring patients to NGO's. 

Read more: Families of #LifeEsidimeni victims to get R200K

She said part of her submission is that officials can't claim that they did not know the consequences of mass moving of patients from Life Esidimeni to unlicensed facilities. 

"They knew because they were told by experts." 

To support her argument, Hassim went through the numerous times the department was warned by civil society and medical professional bodies about the consequences of implementing the project. 

"There were warnings. The alarm was sounded many times but was not heeded.”

She said throughout the project there was disregard for law and procedure.

Hassim said its impossible that the warnings never reached Mahlangu because she ordered Selebano and former director of mental health Dr Makgabo Manamela to get their lawyers involved in the matter. 

Earlier, Section 27 and Solidarity reached an agreement with the State that the families will be compensated with R200 000. 

Hassim said the R180 000 was intended for emotional shock and psychological injury, and counselling services while the R20 000 is for funeral expenses. 

However, Moseneke said the final amount is still to be awarded. 

 "The amounts mentioned today are just suggestions," he said. 

The hearing continues.

African News Agency/ANA