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Families wept uncontrollably as the man responsible for overseeing the transfer of their loved ones from Life Esidimeni Hospital to poorly resourced and overcrowded NGOs begged them for forgiveness.

“Thank you for giving me the chance to give evidence,” said the Gauteng health chief planning director, Levy Mosenogi.

“I know that you still have to heal. I myself need to heal.”

Yesterday marked the third day of the inquiry, which is intended to offer closure for the families of at least 118 psychiatric patients, who died as a result of a Gauteng Department of Health decision to transfer more than 1700 patients from Esidimeni facilities to inadequately resourced NGOs.

It was also the second and last day of Mosenogi’s testimony, where he faced questions from advocates and former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke about who took the decision to transfer the patients to the NGOs - an action that resulted in multiple deaths.

Moseneke, who is heading the proceedings, was at pains to get clarity on why Mosenogi had forged ahead with a decision that resulted in 118 deaths.

“Why did you do this? Why did you move people to NGOs with no proper service-level agreements? With no resources?”

Exasperated relatives looked on as Mosenogi struggled to answers questions from advocates, particularly when asked why patients were transferred from Life Esidimeni without the assigned service-level agreements, identification or Sassa grants, which he eventually admitted was irresponsible.

Earlier, Mosenogi admitted that officials were aware that the NGOs did not have the 2000 beds required to admit all the patients.

“I should have been much stronger in my contestation of this thing. Maybe I should have pulled out. It did cross my mind, but when I saw the conditions the patients were in, I thought maybe I would make a difference,” said Mosenogi.

He also told the inquiry that he had raised concerns about moving patients to the ill-equipped NGOs in prayer meetings he attended, as well as informally with his comrades at branches when former MEC Qedani Mahlangu had failed to act. Mahlangu was said to be “difficult to reach”.

Moseneke asked him why he didn’t then raise the issues with someone more senior than the MEC, instead of going ahead with a dangerous plan. “I should have done that,” Mosenogi responded.

“I think I should have raised it formally. I should have raised it with the premier. I did not do that.”

When questioned if he was aware through his role as project manager that patients had been tied down to open bakkies during their transport to various NGOs, Mosenogi said he was unaware of such unsafe methods used. - Health-e News