Dr Makgabo Manamela testifies at the hearing. File picture.
Johannesburg - Despite numerous letters warning against the plan to move psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni, the department went ahead with the project which saw at least 141 patients die during the botched transfer.

This emerged on the second day of Dr Makgabo Manamela's testimony before the Life Esidimeni alternative dispute resolution.

Manamela was implicated after the Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba released a report on over 140 patients who died as a result of the botched transfer.

Grilling Manamela was Advocate Adila Hassim, a Section 27 lawyer, who questioned if the department was warned of the challenges in carrying out the project.

"The department was given letters. warning us to stop the project," Manamela said.

These warnings came from clinicians, the South African Society of Psychiatrists (Sasop), The South African Depression And Anxiety Group (SADAG) and lawyers from Section 27.

The first warning, from the clinicians, noted that despite the financial reasons given for carrying out the transfer, it would have a devastating impact on the social and health well-being of psychiatric patients as well as community members.

"The process would in fact escalate and not reduce direct and indirect [financial] costs," the letter was quoted as saying.

Manamela was then asked what her response was to the letter from the experts and doctors within the psychiatry profession.

"I advised them that the letter was misdirected because I didn't take decisions on the 20% reduction.. I asked them to direct it to the leadership of the project," Manamela said.

"I noticed later that they were part of the project team... none of them raised the [abovementioned] issues."

Manamela then steered clear of assuming sole responsibility of the botched transfer, insisting it was a team effort and that she was not behind the decision to move patients.

Hassim then questioned why, if numerous warnings were received prior to starting the marathon project, did the process went ahead.

"I couldn't just say that I'm terminating the project... it was not my call to make.

"I indicated to you that when the decision was taken, wherever I was in charge, you check if its in line with provision of prescripts and the quality of services."

When pressed on whether she supported the decision, Manamela said she was unable to respond, because it was part of her duties.

Manamela is set to resume testifying on Friday.