23 November 2017

South Africa: Manamela Admits to Errors During Transfer of Life Esidimeni Patients

Photo: Gauteng Health Department
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke will lead the Alternative Dispute Resolution Process for Life Esidimeni.

Suspended Gauteng director of mental health Dr Makgabo Manamela has conceded that she handed a licence to a non-compliant facility to care for mentally ill patients.

During questioning by Justice Dikgang Moseneke at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing, Manamela admitted that she had made an error when she issued a licence to Kalafong House to accommodate patients who were intended for transfer from Life Esidimeni.

"The licence was prepared ... and I am saying to you, it was an error."

Over 140 mentally ill patients lost their lives when they were abruptly moved to various unlicensed NGOs across the province after the health department cancelled a contract with Life Esidimeni to save money.

At the hearing on Thursday, Manamela went on to admit that she also issued a licence to Anchor Home without compensation.

"You are giving permission for somebody to take into custody severely [mentally and intellectually disabled people]. You are giving them that authority, by law, to look after them against payment. And the law has specified how you do it when you issue a licence. Why would you do it so haphazardly?" she was asked.

She admitted that she had overlooked the matter.

Manamela was also accused of giving permission for patients to be transferred to an NGO without a licence.

Moseneke then questioned how patients under her care ended up at Siyabadinga Elderly and Disabled - an NGO she knew nothing about.

"You can ask the CEO of Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre that. I didn't know," she responded.

Nine people died at Siyabadinga that she knew of, she said.

She added that "I didn't fold my hands".

"It was painful for me as well," she said.

A report by the Health Ombudsman found that Manamela had no basis for issuing licences to non-compliant NGOs.

Manamela's testimony continues on Friday.

On Monday, Manamela stalled proceedings for three hours as she asked for a four-week postponement to allow her time to go through documents.

The application was dismissed by Moseneke, who said that it had no basis in law or fact.


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