Lawyer claims key witness in Esidimeni inquest is married to Qedani Mahlangu's niece

Former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.
Former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.

A lawyer representing former MEC  for health in Gauteng, Qedani Mahlangu, at the Life Esidimeni inquest, questioned a key witness' alleged familial relationship with his client.

Adv Laurence Hodes told the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria where the Life Esidimeni inquest is taking place, that former MD of Life esidemini and key witness, Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa, is allegedly married to Mahlangu's niece.

The inquest aims to see if there can be any criminal liability for the 144 deaths of mental healthcare patients in ill-equipped facilities. “Were you not married to her niece?” Hodes asked.

“I am not aware [of that]. Nobody in my wife's family told me she was a niece and I have never seen her at any family gatherings,” said Mkhatshwa.

“Well I want to put it to you doctor, that you are married to her [Mahlangu] niece,” said Hodes.

Mkhatshwa had previously fingered officials Mahlangu, Dr Barney Selebano and Dr Makgabo Manamela as those who were responsible for moving patients in a cost-cutting marathon project.

“I don't know her at a personal level. I don't know her...I can identify her if I see her on the street,” said Mkhatshwa.

The inquest, which began in July, was suspended by Judge Mmonoa Teffo for a month to ensure that all implicated individuals had proper legal representation.

The inquest continues. 

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