I violated my duties 'by ignorance' - suspended official at Life Esidimeni hearing

2017-10-27 18:24
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown on Tuesday in Johannesburg. (File, Gallo Images)

Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown on Tuesday in Johannesburg. (File, Gallo Images)

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Johannesburg – The suspended chairperson of the Gauteng Mental Health Review Board admitted during her testimony at the Life Esidimeni hearings on Friday that she failed to fulfil her fiduciary duty.

Dumi Masondo, the suspended chairperson of the review board, told the hearings that she violated her duties "by ignorance".

Yet, she also evaded questions and contradicted herself during her testimony. Masondo, who has been suspended but cleared by a departmental investigation into her conduct, told the arbitration hearings that she was not aware of the hierarchy in her office.

During cross-examination, Masondo said she was under the impression that she reported to the suspended director of the mental health review board Dr Makgabo Manamela and former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.

She said that had she known more about her powers, she would have done more to prevent the deaths of at least 141 Life Esidimeni patients.

"I was under the impression they were my seniors and in the profession, we are told to respect our seniors," she said.

"So, today I learned something new that they were supposed to report to me," Masondo said during cross-examination.

Arbitration chair, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, became visibly agitated by Masondo’s responses, warning her at some point that she could be held liable for perjury.

"You are testifying under oath and everything you say is being recorded," Moseneke said.

"I urge you to talk carefully."

'Consequences' 

During further cross-examination, Masondo changed her stance on her role and powers as chairperson of the review board, prompting Moseneke to say: "See: One moment you don’t know what your powers are, the next moment you do know what your powers are."

Moseneke also told Masondo that she failed to do her job because she thought she had found "a nice piece job" and "didn’t want to rock the boat" by challenging the people she perceived to be her seniors.

"Look at the consequences, that is why you are seeing me so impatient," Moseneke said.

Another sticking point during Masondo’s testimony was her share in a funeral parlour and its role in the transporting of one of the patients who passed away.

Masondo testified that she owned a funeral parlour, which was part of a co-opt with African Queens of Africa, but during cross-examination, it was revealed that her company stamp and contact details were on a form for African Queens of Africa.

Masondo told the arbitration hearings that she would have done more to prevent the deaths of the patients had she been in the system earlier.

She was hired for the role on January 4, 2016, but only became aware of the deaths of patients in June.

Masondo said it took months for her to find out about the deaths because she spent the first three months being initiated into the role, trusting reports from officials, including Manamela, that "everything was under control".

However, Moseneke told her: "You’ve been saying how much you love helping families, but the inevitable question is why did you not start helping earlier?"

The hearing continues on Monday.

Read more on:    qedani mahlangu  |  dikgang moseneke  |  johannesburg  |  life esidimeni

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