Manamela signed licences giving inexperienced‚ underfunded‚ poorly equipped NGOs permission to look after profoundly mentally ill patients.
NGOs were used to care for patients after the Gauteng health department terminated the contract with Life Esidimeni. In total, about 1‚712 patients were moved out of Life Esidimeni homes.
Despite being told she was a “defensive” witness‚ Manamela admitted to Solidarity advocate Dirk Groenewald that the NGOs to which she gave authority did not comply with the legal requirements.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution overseen by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke in 2017 found that patients were transferred to NGOs that had been issued “unlawful and knowingly fraudulent” licences.
It was found further that many NGOs were entirely unprepared for the patients they received, some without adequate food, water, medication, staff or blankets.
Jacobus told the court the process was rushed, as her assessment predicted that the process of downscaling would be fully established only by 2020.
“That, under normal circumstances, is a cumbersome process. We were caught by time, we still had meetings within our directorate. We voiced to Manamela that the time frame was not suitable.
“From December 2015 to the end of March 2016 [is not] a sufficient period to determine and appoint suitable NGOs to receive mental healthcare [patients]. No NGOs were ready by the end of March. We needed more time,” she said.