Johannesburg – Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu is expected to be subpoenaed to testify at an arbitration hearing, following the deaths of at least 141 former Life Esidimeni patients.
This was what a high profile source revealed to News24 on Monday.
It was an emotional day for Christian Ngqondwane, whose son Vuyo died after he was transferred from Life Esidimeni to the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre (CCRC), as he called on the former MEC to come testify at the hearings.
"Qedani must come here and explain why my son was... taken to CCRC to be killed," he said.
Ngqondwane, like the families who testified before him, insisted that Mahlangu had to testify and explain why their loved ones were allowed to die.
"My heart will never be at peace with Qedani Mahlangu until she comes here and tells us why she did these things," an emotional Ngqondwane said.
"She must come back from London and testify," he said.
'We’ve got nothing'
Ngqondwane, dressed in a neat suit, told the hearings how he and his wife struggled financially, and how Vuyo’s death had left the family traumatised.
"Firstly, [Vuyo’s funeral] took my pocket out. Second, it traumatised me and my family. To this day my wife can’t sleep," he said.
"We are not happy, we’ve got nothing. Currently, even in the bank, I have nothing. Do not be surprised by me wearing a suit and tie, there is hunger here," he said.
Ngqondwane said all he wanted was justice.
Earlier in the day, Christine Nxumalo, whose sister Virginia Machpelah died after she was moved from Life Esidimeni to Precious Angels, told the hearings that she wanted the truth to come out and see those who had acted unlawfully be charged.
"I would like to get the answers, but I would also like to get them charged," she told the hearing.
Arbitration chair, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, responded by saying it was a "competition between truth and justice".
Helping Hand, the charity arm of Solidarity, which represents three family members who lost relatives, said in a statement on Monday that it wanted Mahlangu to testify at the hearings about "the unnecessary deaths of dozens of mental health patients".
"Helping Hand believes that she should attend the arbitration process to be held accountable for the consequences of her injudicious decisions," it stated.
It said it had received permission from Moseneke and the other legal parties to contact Mahlangu.
"Their legal representatives are now attempting to issue a witness subpoena to force Mahlangu to come and testify. She is currently in the United Kingdom where she is studying and she has not been available for comment," the statement said.
The Democratic Alliance’s Jack Bloom said on Sunday that it was important for Mahlangu to account for her actions.
"Relatives of the deceased patients are unanimous that she be summonsed to the arbitration hearings, and their wishes should be respected. They will not have closure until they hear the full truth from the person most responsible for this immense human tragedy," he said.
The hearings continue on Tuesday.