Families sob as details on care of psychiatric patients emerge

Esidimeni: Relatives say penpushers being left to carry the can

12 October 2017 - 06:51 By Katharine Child
Life Esidimeni. File photo
Life Esidimeni. File photo
Image: Google Photo

After nearly two days of gruelling questioning, an emotional Gauteng health administrator apologised to the families of the 118 psychiatric patients who died after being moved to ill-equipped facilities.

"I would like to say the lessons we learnt are to speak truth to power ... that is the lesson I will carry in remaining days of service to the people," said Levy Mosenogi, who was the Gauteng health department's project leader when 1,400 people were moved from Life Esidimeni clinics to NGOs.

Family attending the arbitration broke out in loud sobs as he apologised.

Mosenogi detailed throughout his testimony how patients were moved despite warnings to health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.

"Why did you not raise it [concerns] with someone more senior than the MEC?'' asked former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who is chairing the hearings.

Mosenogi replied: "I did raise it on an informal basis. I should have raised it formally." He urged government to in future employ qualified health workers in a position such as MEC.

 "Any person who wants to be deployed to run the department . the person must be a seasoned, experienced health person ... ''

The hearings in Johannesburg heard how there was no proper plan to move the patients after shutting down Life Esidimeni clinics to cut costs. Patients were moved on the back of bakkies, some with their limbs tied.

Family member Mariana Jamnik-Schmidt said she did not blame Mosenogi. "He is being scapegoated. It is not fair. Where are his bosses?'' she asked.