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Esidimeni: 'I warned dept officials against moving patients'

Specialist psychiatrist Dr Mvuyiso Talatala is testifying at the hearing in Parktown.

FILE: Life Esidimeni Waverley Care Centre Hospital in Boksburg. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Yet another official has told the Esidimeni arbitration hearing that he warned disgraced former Gauteng health executives, including former MEC Qedani Mahlangu, against moving psychiatric patients, but was not listened to.

Specialist psychiatrist Dr Mvuyiso Talatala is testifying at the hearing in Parktown.

Over 140 psychiatric patients died after being moved from Life Esidimeni facilities to unlawful NGOs by the provincial health department.

Doctor Talatala is a specialist psychiatrist and former president of the South African Society of Psychiatrists which works closely with government.

Talatala says he found out through rumours in 2015 that the Gauteng Health Department planned to terminate its contract with the Life Esidimeni Group.

He says the marathon project was confirmed to them by the Health Department in June that year.

The specialist psychiatrist says he warned officials.

“Well within routes to the Department of Health, we wrote in June 2015 to the MEC and we did raise a few concerns we had about what would happen to the medal care users at Life Esidimeni.”

He says he even copied various stakeholders - including the National Health department to the warning letter he emailed to Mahlangu and others in the Gauteng Health Department.

'ATTACKING HUMAN RIGHTS'

Talatala has also accused disgraced former Gauteng health officials of simply not caring and “attacking the human rights of mentally ill patients”.

He says their warnings fell on deaf ears.

Talatala was asked by retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke why he thought the department still continued with the transfers.

Moseneke asked: “The head of department ignored you, head of mental healthcare ignored you, the project leader Mr [Levy] Mosenogi ignored you, you go to court twice and they promise the court that they will talk to you and consult, but they don’t. Why do you think they ignored you?”

“I think there are multiple reasons, probably they don’t care about mentally ill patients, especially patients of that severity,” Talatala responded.

The hearings have adjourned and will continue on Tuesday morning.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)