Life Esidimeni: I am not a prophet, says Mahlangu

2018-01-25 17:36
Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu testifies during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings. (Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images, file)

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu testifies during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings. (Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images, file)

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Johannesburg – Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has told the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing that she is not a prophet, and therefore could not have anticipated the death of 143 psychiatric patients.

"It was not intentional. If I had foresight like a prophet, maybe I would have seen, but I am not a prophet. I do not even know what will happen tomorrow," she said as she testified for a third day in Parktown, Johannesburg.

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But retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke quizzed her on why she did not listen to the families of the psychiatric patients when they opposed the move from Life Esidimeni.

"Why didn’t you listen to them?" Moseneke asked, referring to the families.

Mahlangu said at the time that she gave families the assurance to contact her, "even if they sent a Please Call Me" message.

She also insisted that she gave the families her numbers, adding that she should have behaved differently.

But Moseneke was not satisfied and pressed her for answers.

"I am having a one-to-one with you, comrade to comrade…why didn't you listen to them?" Moseneke said.

Mahlangu said she told families that, if they were unhappy about the place where officials took their loved ones, they should contact her.

Mahlangu added that she told families to go with officials to suggest places and that they should take part in decision making.

However, she said she now knows the human rights of patients were violated.

Mahlangu reiterated that the decisions were all "collective decisions" and she cannot be expected to answer personally.

READ: I cannot carry personal blame, says Mahlangu

"The point I am making is there is no politician who individually can say 'this must happen' and everything else happens tomorrow.

"Things are not individualised in government, it's a team, yes led by a politician, but it's a team of people, from the politician to a cleaner to a clerk and everybody else.

"That's part of the process and it depends [on] where a decision needs to be made and taken by who…," said Mahlangu.

Earlier Lilla Crouse, a Legal Aid advocate, who was seemingly not impressed with Mahlangu's answers, grilled her and asked if the closure of Life Esidimeni was ever discussed in the provincial health council meetings which she chaired.

"No, it wasn't," she replied.

She also said the decision to terminate the contract was a cost containment measure and not an executive decision.

"Ever since I have been in the executive council, contractual matters have never been presented to the council..."

Read more on:    life esidimeni  |  qedani mahlangu  |  healthcare

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