Johannesburg – Suspended Gauteng director of mental health Makgabo Manamela has failed to take responsibility for the deaths of more than 140 mentally ill patients, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke said on Friday.
A visibly irritated Moseneke told Manamela during her testimony at the Life Esidimeni Arbitration hearing that Levy Mosenogi, the head of the project which saw more than 147 Life Esidimeni patience die, warned her that people would die.
“He (Mosenogi) warns you that people are going to die and you come here and you waste so much of our time.
“[For] three days you never take responsibility for anything that happened there and your own colleague has come to tell us what had happened. He was the project leader. Will you take responsibility for something?” he asked.
“I am not saying he was lying,” she said.
She said when Mosenogi wrote a letter in February about the patients he sent it to the MEC.
‘I knew how bad things were’
“Mr Mosenogi didn’t tell me that we must stop. He should have said, ‘Makgabo, let’s not carry on’,” she said.
But Moseneke hit back and said that didn’t make the situation better.
“That is why he came here and cried… and told us how bad it was, how poorly managed it was [and] patients were treated unwell,” he said.
Lot of concerns
Manamela said she knew her responsibilities and that she should be allowed to tell her own version of what had happened.
She admitted that at some point she knew how bad things were at some of the unlicensed NGOs mentally ill patients were transferred to.
“After we placed the patients, I knew how bad things were in some of the NGOs,” she said.
Manamela said it was only after patients had been placed at various NGOs that she realised that there were a lot of concerns.
She said the patients were placed after the NGOs were evaluated and were found to be suitable.
‘I just want the facts’
Before she answered some of the question posed to her, Moseneke told Manamela that the hearing was not a “game about protecting yourself every minute.
“I just want the facts. I am going to make a decision about your credibility. It is just a matter of time. So all I want is for you to answer questions put to you and I will decide whether you are telling the truth or not,” said Moseneke.
On Thursday, Manamela also admitted that she had made an error when she issued a licence to Kalafong House to accommodate patients who were intended for transfer from Life Esidimeni.
“The licence was prepared… and I am saying to you, it was an error”.
Manamela went on to admit that she also issued a licence to Anchor Home without compensation. She said she had overlooked the matter.
On Monday, Manamela stalled proceedings for three hours as she asked for a four-week postponement to allow her time to go through documents.
The application was dismissed by Moseneke, who said that it had no basis in law or fact.
More than 140 mentally ill patients lost their lives when they were abruptly moved to various unlicensed NGOs across the province after the health department cancelled a contract with Life Esidimeni to save money.
A report by the Health Ombudsman found that Manamela had no basis for issuing licences to non-compliant NGOs.