Maverick Citizen

LIFE ESIDIMENI INQUEST

‘I did not withhold information,’ says former Gauteng mental health official implicated in patient deaths

‘I did not withhold information,’ says former Gauteng mental health official implicated in patient deaths
Former head of the mental health directorate at the Gauteng Department of Health, Dr Makgabo Manamela. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele)

The former director of Gauteng’s mental health services, Dr Makgabo Manamela, denies concealing information relating to the deaths of 144 mental healthcare users in 2016.

An affidavit submitted to the Life Esidimeni inquest by former Gauteng health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, claims that former provincial mental health services director, Dr Makgabo Manamela, had concealed the deaths of the patients.

“I did not withhold information,” responded Manamela, telling the inquest that she had provided a monthly update on the number of deaths.

Manamela continued her cross-examination on Monday and Tuesday before the inquest was adjourned to 21 November.

“Things go according to levels within the department,” Manamela said.

“I couldn’t just go and tell the MEC that there were deaths before the contract was terminated, but there were reports… I wasn’t reporting to her, so it won’t be truthful (to say) that I misled her.”

Manamela told the inquest Mahlangu gave instructions for the relocation of patients from the Life Esidimeni facilities despite the fact that the NGOs they were being sent to were ill-equipped to take the patients.

Asked by advocate Ndivhoniswani Makhani why most patients were transferred to the Tshwane district from Life Esidimeni, she said it was because the department had earmarked hospitals in Pretoria as suitable.

Manamela told the inquest that “for chronic healthcare users, there is a hospital in Tshwane called Cullinan which catered for severely mentally disabled patients. We renovated that hospital and readied 100 beds. 

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“Another reason was because Weskoppies [hospital] is in Tshwane, which was also renovated to accommodate patients.” She said most of the NGOs willing to assist with patients were based in Tshwane.

According to Manamela, during the process of patient placements, meetings were held between the MEC, the hospitals and the programme managers for mental health and TB, who would be called when necessary. Manamela said she would meet the CEOs of the hospitals whenever they had mental health matters to raise with her.

Manamela denied threatening to fire the former CEO of the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre, Matshidiso Nyatlo, saying: “I do not have authority to fire a person. If the people I worked with did not like anything, I would advise them to write a letter giving reasons for why they did not want to do certain tasks and I would escalate it to HR.

“When the placing team encountered difficulties, they were able to phone me. If the problem needed me to involve myself, I would then talk to them and we would end up agreeing. 

“The Cullinan staff, together with the placing team, were the ones who decided on which patients would be taken by Cullinan.” Manamela told the inquest the placement team was well aware of the qualification criteria.

Manamela denied giving instructions for the discharge of patients from Cullinan, and explained that staff at Cullinan would be the ones who best knew the patients and the criteria for discharge.

The inquest will determine if anyone should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients relocated from Life Esidimeni facilities to various NGOs six years ago.

The patients died from severe neglect, hunger and dehydration. DM/MC

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Karen G says:

    I don’t understand why this inquiry is taking so long. Where is the paper trail?

    • Charles Geffen says:

      Look at who’s involved and the past and present ANC rot and you’ll understand 😩 (6years later and Stalingrad triumphs again while the citizenry (and couches) get stuffed

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    “When the placing team encountered difficulties, they were able to phone me. If the problem needed me to involve myself, I would then talk to them and we would end up agreeing.”
    So then basically, any disagreements were moot? She overrode them completely?

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