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'Arbitration process must ensure psychiatric patients are treated with respect'

Doctor Mvuyiso Talatala was testifying at the hearings in Parktown on Tuesday afternoon for a second day.

A screengrab of the former president of the South African Society of Psychiatrists Dr Mvuyiso Talatala giving evidence at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The former president of the South African Society of Psychiatrists has told the Esidimeni hearings that the arbitration process must help ensure all those working in the mental health sector treat psychiatric patients with respect.

Doctor Mvuyiso Talatala was testifying at the hearings in Parktown on Tuesday afternoon for the second day.

He says the organisation he led until December last year warned former Gauteng Health department officials, including Qedani Mahlangu, about the dangers of moving patients from Esidimeni.

The transfers went ahead and 143 people died as a result.

Talatala was given the opportunity to make his closing remarks.

“I’m also hopeful that this process, while it has been difficult, especially for our society, will result in better care for our patients and our communities.”

Retired deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke then applauded Talatala and his colleagues for fighting the department in court and doing what they could to protect the rights of vulnerable patients.

“So, you’ve intervened in a way that is remarkable. And that is really what I’m saying and without any immediate benefit and just extend that I think also to all your colleagues who were part of this and who blew the whistle and who refused to be cowed down and who did what had to be done.”

Families gathered chanting as the specialist psychiatrist was released from his oath.

Next on the stand now to give testimony was Dikeledi Manaka, a nursing manager from the Cullinan Care and Rehab Centre.

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