Justice for Esidimeni families: Manamela will testify

14 November 2017 - 11:45 By Katherine Child
Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke is heading the arbitration hearings between the State and the families of victims in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke is heading the arbitration hearings between the State and the families of victims in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
Image: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES

Dr Makgoba Manamela‚ Gauteng’s former Director-General of Health in the department‚ who was involved from the outset in the Life Esidimeni move‚ has agreed to testify at the arbitration hearings.

Evidence leader Patrick Ngutshana told the hearings on Tuesday that Manamela has agreed to testify‚ as long as her legal costs are covered by the state.

She challenged the first subpoena summoning her to testify on the grounds that there was an error in the date of the subpoena‚ and that she was appealing the health ombudsman's report into her culpability.

She has not challenged the second subpoena sent to her by Section 27‚ compelling her to testify at the hearings.

Ombudsman Makgoba Malegapuru investigated the decision to close the Life Esidimeni homes that led to the deaths of 143 mentally ill patients.

Makgoba's report‚ released on 1 February‚ suggested that Manamela be suspended by the Gauteng health department and investigated for "negligence and/or gross incompetence".

She has since lost her appeal against the report.

Manamela remains on full salary‚ the health department confirmed at the hearings‚ and she is facing a disciplinary hearing.

In the hearings‚ much of the testimony has focused on Manamela's role in the move.

Dianne Noyile‚ who ran one of the NGOs at which patients died‚ testified that Manamela physically moved beds into the two NGOs operating on the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre's premises in order to squeeze more patients into small spaces.

The premises of the two NGOs became overcrowded‚ and patients died in both. In the hearings‚ witnesses testified that Manamela knew NGOs such as Precious Angels‚ at which 20 patients died‚ did not have adequate food‚ money or staff to look after sick people.

The ombudsman found that Manamela had issued illegal licences to ill-equipped NGOs to take patients. It has also been alleged during the hearings that she knew that a staff member in the health department profited from transporting the deceased body of an Esidimeni patient.

X