Dr Makgabo Manamela, the suspended general of mental health services said the arbitration treated her unfairly and violated her right to privacy. PHOTO: ANA Reporter

Johannesburg - The suspended Gauteng mental health director, who was called to testify at the Life Esidimeni arbitration on Monday, said that the dispute and resolution committee treated her unfairly and has also violated her right to privacy.

This came after retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who is heading the arbitration hearings, gave Dr Makgoba Manamela an opportunity to speak after four days of testifying

"I believe that somewhere, somehow during these proceedings I was seen as an accused, my right to dignity and privacy was violated, my medical condition was published without my consent and I witnessed a lot of bias during these proceedings. However for the sake of the patients that we really loved I had to ensure that," Manamela said.

Read: #LifeEsidimeni: Suspended mental health head continues to shift blame

"I was called as witness but the proceedings put me in an accusing line as the director of mental health." 

On her first day on the stand, Manamela insisted that she wants to be furnished with relevant documents that she will peruse for at least a month before testifying.

Her application was denied by Moseneke citing that a witness is not entitled to such documents.

From day one, Manamela kept shifting blame about the botched relocation of patients which left 143 dead and 59 missing.

In all her answers, she never implicated herself in the marathon project as the decision maker, and constantly referred any decision as a team effort or made by her superiors. 

"What happened was a collective endeavour...I'm part of a project team but I cannot be picked out of the team. This was a project, not a work by myself alone," she said.

The arbitration hearings heard that the South Africa Society of Psychiatrist and South African Depression and Anxiety Group wrote letters to the department of health, but were ignored. Manamela was asked why the warnings were not taken serious.

Also read: #LifeEsidimeni: Manamela denied request to delay testimony

"My superiors also received the letter. They should have responded. It was not within my capabilities," Manamela responded earlier during the arbitration.

During her time on the stand, she fingered former MEC of Gauteng Health Qedani Mahlangu and her head of department, Dr Tiego Selebano, as the people who gave her the instructions.

She said that her job was to act on decisions which were already made. 

Earlier, Dr Mavuso Talatala a specialist psychiatrists told the hearing that most deaths were caused by cold, hunger, dehydration and general lack of care.

Moseneke asked Manamela what she thought could be the causes the death.

"The post mortem will tell us what was wrong. I was not giving any nursing care to patients," Manamela replied.

Moseneke asked Manamela why she never secured postmortem results of everyone who died after the relocation. 

She responded: "Post mortem reports under normal circumstances is being recommend by the doctor who saw the patients. It's done in the forensics and police have to be involved...It's not within my delegated duty".

Read more: #LifeEsidimeni: NGOs met the standard to house patients, hearing told

Manamela blamed some deaths on lack of medication, citing that they were released from Life Esidimeni without medication. 

When closing, Moseneke asked Manamela who should be charged criminally for the deaths.

"This project was managed by a lot of team members,so I may not be able to make that decision or make recommendations," she responded.

During the project, Manamela was in charge of issuing licenses to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and according to her, only one NGO was operating without a license. However, it was revealed that some of the NGOs were unlicensed.

Some of her duties involved her going to the facilities and inspect whether the NGO fitted the purpose to cater for mentally ill patients. Out of 27 centres she went to only four.

When asked why did not she inspect all the NGOs, she said she had subordinates who she relied on to do the job.

According to Manamela, the NGOs were fit for purpose during inspection and deaths started occurring after the move.

Monday was Manamela's last day on the witness stand and family member of some of the patients who died have vocally expressed their dissatisfaction with Manamela's consistent denial of any wrongdoing.

The hearing has been adjourned to Wednesday.