11 October 2017

South Africa: Emotional Day for the Families of the Victims of Life Esidimeni

Families of the patients who died after they were moved from Life Esidimeni to a number of unlicensed NGOs had to sit through an emotional day as the head of the project continued his testimony and failed to answer why they were moved.

There were regular murmurs from the families on the third day of the arbitration hearing as Levy Mosenogi, the director of planning, policy and research at the Gauteng health department, was unable to answer questions about why the department pushed ahead with its plans to transfer the patients.

When former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke pushed him to answer why the department went ahead with its plans despite Mosenogi's misgivings about the project, he was unable to provide an answer.

"Why did you go ahead and do this?" Moseneke asked Mosenogi.

"I am repeating myself like a gramophone," said Moseneke.

Mosenogi said he was unable to answer that question because he had raised his concerns with the former MEC of health Qedani Mahlangu, who was not on the list of witnesses to be called.

On Tuesday, the father of one of the patients told News24 that he had seen patients loaded onto the back of trucks and bakkies when he went to visit his son at Life Esidimeni, but when Mosenogi was questioned about that on Wednesday, he was unable to answer.

'I want to apologise'

After his testimony, Mosenogi requested to address those present at the hearing, and when he apologised family members present started weeping.

"On my behalf, I want to apologise... It was difficult for you," he said.

He was followed by the director general of the national department of health Malebona Precious Matsoso, who told the hearing that the provincial department hadn't communicated any of their plans to close Life Esidimeni and transfer patients to a number of unlicensed NGOs.

Instead, she said she was informed about the plans by Section27 once they got involved in the matter. Matsoso said a verification task team was set up to track down the patients and those who died.

She told the hearing that the department was informed that families did not know where their relatives were while others raised the issue that they had to travel too far.

"What we did is we actually went from mortuary to mortuary. We even went as far as Limpopo. We even identified some individuals who were given pauper's funerals," Matsoso said.

Matsoso is expected to continue her testimony on Thursday.

Source: News24

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