Life Esidimeni: Mahlangu has not brought closure to affected families, says lawyer

2018-01-25 21:26
Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu. (Sethembiso Zulu, City Press)

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu. (Sethembiso Zulu, City Press)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg – In the three days that former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has testified, she has not brought closure to the families of 143 mentally ill patients who died after they were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities to various NGOs, a lawyer said on Thursday.

Advocate Dirk Groenewald, for Solidarity, told Mahlangu that her evidence in the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing was important but she had failed to bring closure to those affected.  

"You live in total denial," Groenewald said while cross-examining Mahlangu at the hearing in Parktown, Johannesburg, on Thursday.

Groenewald added that for the past three days, Mahlangu claimed not to recall most of the events that happened during the Life Esidimeni project.

During her final day of testimony Mahlangu said she believed that what happened to the families was "regrettable".

"I came here honestly and truthfully. I have been taking an oath every day since [I've been] sitting here, so help me God, and I think I have done my best in telling things to the extent that I remember, and to the best of my ability."

'I am not directly to blame'

She said she had "decided to fall on my sword".

"I think that I have taken political accountability and I am here (at the hearing) to support the arbitration process to answer and give information to the extent that I can contribute towards finalisation of the report."

Meanwhile, Legal Aid lawyer Advocate Lilla Crouse put it to her that she was directly to blame for the deaths and suffering of the patients who were moved.

"I am not directly to blame," Mahlangu replied.

Crouse also told her that it appeared she was more concerned about her political career than the Life Esidimeni patients, but Mahlangu denied this.

"Justice, I believe the truth will set me free," Mahlangu said.

Mahlangu also told the hearing that her family had taken strain because of her government work.

'I am not a prophet'

"I understand and accept that things have gone wrong under my rule. My family should not have to suffer because of me. I feel like we have let down the most vulnerable in society and for that I apologise."

Earlier, Mahlangu said she was 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.

READ: I am not a prophet, says Mahlangu

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 replied that she had given the families the assurance that they could contact her, "even if they sent a 'please call me'" message.

She also insisted that she gave the families her contact numbers.

Mahlangu acknowledged that she should have behaved differently.

The hearing continues on Friday.  

Read more on:    life esidimeni  |  qedani mahlangu  |  healthcare

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.