Manamela's lawyer wants Life Esidimeni inquest delayed

Former director of mental health in the department of health in Gauteng Dr Makgabo Manamela.
Former director of mental health in the department of health in Gauteng Dr Makgabo Manamela.

Legal representation for former head of Gauteng health Makgabo Manamela have asked for the findings of the justice Dikgang Moseneke arbitration to be expunged from the Life Esidimeni inquest because they have poisoned the proceedings.

Adv Russell Sibara, who has just recently joined the inquest to represent  Manamela, said on Monday he also wants a one month postponement  to make sure the proceedings are fair.

He said the evidence he will be presenting may also implicate former minister of health Aaron Motsoaledi despite evidence leader Pieter Luyt telling the court that Motsoaledi has not been implicated in the investigations and that the inquest is not “a free for all”.

“Justice Dikgang Moseneke's report has poisoned the mind of this court,” said Sibara in his opening statement.

He said he will be making an application to the Pretoria high court to have the report expunged from the proceedings.

The arbitration award, which was handed out in 2018, made damning findings against officials and the Department of Health and Moseneke concluded they had lied, abused their power and played the victim.

The inquest aims to conclude whether the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should lay criminal charges against implicated officials. 

“During the consultation with my client it became apparent that there is a likelihood that the former minister of health will likely be a person of interest and he is not represented during these proceedings,” said Sibara in his argument for a postponement. 

Sibara said there was no proper consultation between his client and Adv Tebogo Hutamo who was representing Manamela as well as the Department of Health.

Judge Mmonoa Teffo had previously suspended the proceedings for Manamela to get independent representation from her former employer.

Section27's Adv Adila Hassim, who is representing 44 families, said the inquest would not be taking place if Moseneke had not made his critical findings in the award.

“I cannot understand this at all. The very reason we are here stems from the report from justice Moseneke... the never-ending delays are a prejudice against the families. These are not adversarial proceedings, this is an inquisitorial proceeding.

“The court is going about a fact-finding mission and needs to take into account all relevant information that is placed before it. The outcome is not about guilt or liability ... the findings will be recommendations to the NPA who will decide what to do,” said Hassim.

Monday's proceedings were filled with technical issues with a number of advocates not having secure internet connection, buffering of the proceeding and not being visible to the judge.

The inquest continues.

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