LIFE ESIDIMENI INQUEST
Former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu inspired fear, says Marathon Project manager, Levy Mosenogi
‘Yes, people were afraid of her… myself no... people were afraid of her, especially those working close with her,’ says Levy Mosenogi.
People were afraid of former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, Levy Mosenogi, the manager of the Life Esidimeni Marathon Project, told Thursday’s sitting of the inquest into the death of at least 144 mental health patients in 2016.
“As a senior manager I would also sometimes differ with her, but you take your chances, when you differ with the MEC you have to have your facts.”
When asked by advocate Russell Sibara, the legal counsel for former Gauteng director of mental health services Dr Makgabo Manamela, to clarify what he meant by that, Mosenogi answered that one had to stand their ground, “otherwise it becomes difficult for you”.
Mosenogi said that the clinicians who warned against the moving of mental healthcare patients were working directly with Manamela, “so they would have their own mental health meeting”.
Sibara asked Mosenogi why he didn’t approach Mahlangu and ask her to reverse her decision to go ahead with the ill-conceived transfer of mental health patients from the Life Esidimeni facility to local NGOs.
“In a way I think my approach was going to do the same thing, because I was saying, let’s extend this thing, let’s do it in phases, let’s buy one of the two facilities. So in a way I was saying, let’s consider other options rather than closing,” answered Mosenogi. Sibara then asked if he had the powers to do that.
Mosenogi responded, “If I had the powers, I would have done that.”
Mosenogi testified that there were not enough beds in the Johannesburg district to cater to the patients who were to be transferred.
“The beds that were planned were projected, they were not actual beds and if you looked at Johannesburg there was not much space for additional beds, that’s why most of the people were directed to Tshwane.”
Describing Mahlangu’s demeanour, Mosenogi said, “She’s boisterous, she is a very strong leader… so some people might think that she is arrogant.
“Yes, people were afraid of her… myself no… people were afraid of her, especially those working close with her.”
When asked by Sibara if he was aware that Manamela was also afraid of Mahlangu, Mosenogi replied, “Yes, she was nervous all the time.”
Mosenogi testified that the transfer of patients was a departmental decision.
“In my opinion, Dr Manamela was implementing what has already been decided and I worked with her. In my opinion she did not contribute to the deaths, but that will be for the court to decide.”
Mosenogi described the patients he had seen as looking “lost”, “lethargic”, “haggard” and “not very happy” during the transfer process from Life Esidimeni Waverley.
The inquest resumes on Friday. DM/MC
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