Four questions that Mahlangu has to answer at Esidimeni hearings

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu expected to appear before the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing.
Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu expected to appear before the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing.

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu is on Monday scheduled to appear before the Esidimeni arbitration hearings probing the deaths of at least 143 mentally ill patients.

The scandal happened under Mahlangu’s watch when the patients were moved into unlicensed and ill-equipped NGOs.

Mahlangu has only recently returned to South Africa from London‚ where she is studying.

Other key players in the tragedy have testified‚ including Gauteng director of mental health Makgabo Manamela and former head of department Barney Selebano. Both resigned last week.

Mahlangu resigned in February 2017‚ just before the health ombudsman released his report into the scandal.

Meanwhile‚ the Democratic Alliance on Sunday said it hoped that Mahlangu would testify “openly and truthfully without her previous arrogance”. The party’s Jack Bloom said Mahlangu should answer the following key questions:

1) What were the true reasons for cancelling the Esidimeni contract when a study commissioned by the department found that it was cost-effective and provided good care? 2) Why did she ignore so persistently all the warnings that moving so many patients to NGOs would lead to deaths? 3) Why did she mislead the Gauteng legislature by providing untrue replies to questions in the legislature? For example‚ on 18 November 2015‚ she said that only 591 patients would be placed with NGOs when more than 1‚000 patients were actually sent to NGOs. 4) What information did she provide to Premier David Makhura and the Executive Council on the Esidimeni matter‚ and what was their complicity in the decisions that were taken?

Bloom said Mahlangu should seek amends by giving honest testimony and apologising to the relatives of the deceased.

“She should acknowledge her personal and direct responsibility for this terrible tragedy‚ rather than blaming officials as scapegoats‚” he said.

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