25 October 2017

South Africa: #LifeEsidimeni - Mahlangu's Alleged School Confirms No Exams Scheduled

Meanwhile, the London School of Economics and Political Science says it cannot confirm Qedani Mahlangu is a student.

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) management has confirmed that there are no exams currently taking place at the school as far as they are aware. This revelation comes after former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu - who Rapport alleges is a student at the school - reportedly said she was unable to attend ongoing arbitration hearings into the deaths of more than 100 mental health patients because of exams.

On Sunday, Rapport cited "reliable sources" as having revealed that Mahlangu is continuing her studies at LSE and said it had evidence that the embattled former MEC was onboard a 29 July flight from South Africa to Heathrow Airport.

But LSE head of external communications Aine Duffy said the school was not aware of any ongoing exams and that the next exam period was scheduled for January 2018.

At arbitrations this week, the state's Advocate Tebogo Hutamo said Mahlangu was willing to testify but could not attend current hearings because she was writing exams. Instead, Hutamo said Mahlangu would return to the country to testify in November or December.

Meanwhile, LSE has refused to confirm whether Mahlangu is indeed a student at the school.

"There is a legal duty under UK data protection legislation for us not to disclose registration status of individuals," Duffy explained.

The arbitration hearings into the Life Esidimeni tragedy - in which more than 100 mental health patients lost their lives - were originally expected to conclude by the end of October.

But this week presiding retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said he would not conclude the process without testimony from Mahlangu as well as Gauteng head of health Barney Selebano and the director of the mental health directorate, Makgabo Manamela.

Both Selebano and Manamela were suspended in February with pay following the release of a damning health ombudsman report into what was dubbed by the state as the Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project. As part of this, more than 1 300 mental health patients were removed from state-funded care at private Life Esidimeni hospitals.

Arbitration hearings have revealed that at least 141 of these patients have died. Proceedings are running concurrently to criminal investigations into the matter and are expected to result in compensation, financial and otherwise, for the affected families.

Additional reporting by Nelisiwe Msomi

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