Upset families hone in on Qedani Mahlangu

22 January 2018 - 13:22 By Katharine Child
Families protest for justice at the Life Esidimeni hearings.
Families protest for justice at the Life Esidimeni hearings.
Image: Katharine Child

"She is a murderer‚" families shouted outside the Life Esidimeni hearings where former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu testified on Monday.

Mahlangu is testifying in the hearings to explain why 1‚700 mentally ill patients were moved out of Life Esidimeni homes into unlicensed and ill-equipped NGOs in 2016. At least 143 patients died‚ many of suspected hunger and dehydration.

A protest led by the Treatment Action Campaign arrived at the Emoyeni conference hearings during the tea break.

Families carried white crosses to signify the death of their loved ones and held posters calling for "justice".

Nomvula Nonjabe‚ whose sister survived the move to the NGOs‚ called for Mahlangu to never get another job in government.

"She killed children in 2007." She was referring to the relocation of children from Life Esidimeni to a Soweto NGO in 2007. An estimated 17 children died‚ serving as a terrible precursor to the subsequent relocation of adult patients.

Bereaved family members of Life Esidimeni victims say it is not the first time former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has behaved irresponsibly.

Family members wore t-shirts with pictures of their deceased loved ones. The back of the t-shirts read: "We want answers. Qedani Mahlangu‚ why did you torture and kill our loved ones?"
Family members wore t-shirts with pictures of their deceased loved ones. The back of the t-shirts read: "We want answers. Qedani Mahlangu‚ why did you torture and kill our loved ones?"
Image: Katharine Child

"This has to stop now‚" said Nonjabe.

Nonjabe called for Mahlangu to never get another job in government.

Mahlangu resigned as MEC last January‚ a day before the health ombudsman's report into the tragedy was released. She is now studying in the UK.

"They must not be deploying people to other departments. She killed mothers‚ brothers‚ sisters‚ uncles and aunts . . . She must not touch other people's children‚" said Nonjabe.

"Mahlangu must be arrested."

Nonjabe also wants former head of mental health in the province Dr Makgabo Manamela and former head of department Dr Barney Selebano as well as a doctor and social worker in the department to face criminal charges.

"It would teach a lot of them (politicians) a lesson. [The lesson will be ] if they ever play with lives again there will be consequences."

On Monday‚ many family member wore t-shirts with pictures of their deceased loved ones. The back of the t-shirts read: "We want answers. Qedani Mahlangu‚ why did you torture and kill our loved ones?"

Former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu took the stand on 22 January 2018 to give her account of the Life Esidimeni tragedy. More than 140 mental health patients lost their lives after they were...


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