Former Gauteng MEC for health Qedani Mahlangu has much to answer for over the tragic deaths of at least 143 Life Esidimeni patients. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

Johannesburg - Former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu must accept responsibility for the 143 Life Esidimeni deaths, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

Mahlangu was scheduled to appear before the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings chaired by Judge Dikgang Moseneke in Johannesburg on Monday, DA spokesman Jack Bloom said.

"I hope that she avoids any more stalling tactics and testifies openly and truthfully without her previous arrogance that led to this tragedy in which 143 people died," he said.

The officials who had appeared at the hearings had described a climate of fear that arose from Mahlangu’s "determination" to cancel the Life Esidimeni contract and send mental patients to unsuitable NGOs.

Read: #LifeEsidimeni families on warpath over Qedani Mahlangu's absence

The DA said Mahlangu needed to answer certain key questions:
- what were the true reasons for cancelling the Esidimeni contract when a study commissioned by the department found that it was cost-effective and provided good care?
- why did she ignore so persistently all the warnings that moving so many patients to NGOs would lead to deaths?
- why did she mislead the Gauteng legislature by providing untrue replies to Bloom's questions in the legislature? She had a constitutional duty to reply accurately to questions in the legislature, and personally signed those for written reply, but on November 18, 2015, for instance, she said only 591 patients would be placed with NGOs when more than 1000 patients were actually sent to NGOs, and 
- what information did she provide to premier David Makhura and the executive council in this matter, and what was their complicity in the decisions that were taken?

Also read: #LifeEsidimeni: Selebano found it 'difficult' to confront Mahlangu

"Qedani Mahlangu should seek to make amends with honest testimony and a sincere apology to the relatives of the victims who have suffered so much from her ill-considered actions.

"She should acknowledge her personal and direct responsibility for this terrible tragedy rather than blaming officials as scapegoats," Bloom said.

African News Agency/ANA