Mahlangu: I've always been willing to appear at Esidimeni hearing
Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu is a key witness as she signed off on the Esidimeni project which resulted in the deaths of more than 140 mentally ill patients.
JOHANNESBURG - Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu says she notes with concern that several media reports which are regularly surfacing in the country about her, are false and without basis in fact.
"First, it is completely false that I refuse or ran away or disappeared from the Esidimeni arbitration. From the beginning, in line with my conscience, I have made it clear to all authorities involved that I'm available to appear before the arbitration. As such, I need no subpoena," she said in a statement.
"Secondly, anyone who knows how universities work, know that planning and applying for study, happens long before one can travel to the institution concerned, and therefore the suggestion that I used my studies to escape accountability is also false.
"Thirdly, it is clear that these inaccurate reports seek to suggest that I'm not committed to principles of accountability, transparency and openness. As such, the reports are written in such a way that as a supposed 'fugitive' of sorts, I must be subjected to an arbitration of public opinion, ahead of the formal arbitration Process. Nobody else has been subjected to this kind of treatment.
"Fourthly, I wish to reserve my rights to comment on the falsehoods around my studies except to say, these reports say a lot about our quality of journalism in our country than Qedani.
"Finally, I hope journalists and media houses report in such a manner that shows respect and sensitivity to the arbitration process so that the dignity of the families and the victims is upheld at all times."
Mahlangu added that she has always maintained that she's willing to appear before the arbitration, saying that she has confidence in the process.
Mahlangu was suspended from the institution’s Global Banking School in London this week.
The University of Bedfordshire says it suspended Qedani Mahlangu because “the severity of the allegations against her in South Africa”
However, her lawyer Stanley Pincus says this is unfair and they will fight it.
“In regard to the question relating to our clients’ suspension, we are of the view that that suspension was both wrongful and unlawful and we’re taking steps to have it revoked and, if necessary, reviewed.”
Pincus explained to the families gathered at the arbitration hearing why his client would only be available to testify in late January next year.
“She at the moment is busy with the strategy and global competitive environmental module which finishes this month, November. And this month she starts with the global financial markets and wealth management which is only completed on about the 15th of January next year.”
Earlier EWN reported that lawyers representing Mahlangu have appeared before the Esidimeni arbitration hearings on Friday morning to let families know that she has committed herself to giving testimony from 22 to 26 January.
Mahlangu is a key witness, given that she signed off on the Esidimeni project which resulted in more than 100 mentally ill patients losing their lives.
She and other Gauteng government officials moved the patients to ill-equipped NGOs where they died of hunger and starvation.
Meanwhile, Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba has confirmed that the death toll has risen.
Making his second appearance at the hearings, Makgopa said that the number deaths has increased to 143.
WATCH: Esidimeni: Health Ombudsman set for second appearance