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I knew NGOs were inadequate - Ex-president of SA Society of Psychiatrists

Doctor Mvuyiso Talatala says he tried to inform disgraced former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and other senior officials of this, but his warning fell on deaf ears.

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 revealed to the arbitration hearings that he knew the NGOs where Esidimeni patients were being moved to were inadequate.

Doctor Mvuyiso Talatala says he tried to inform disgraced former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and other senior officials of this, but his warning fell on deaf ears.

Talatala says Health Department officials have a culture of not listening to professionals.

PERJURY

Talatala insists the Gauteng Health Department committed perjury by claiming in court that Esidimeni patients were ready to be moved to NGOs.

Talatala says the department lied to the High Court in March when it said patients were healthy and were being discharged by doctors but had no families to go to.

The court case was mainly about 50 patients who were moved to the Takalani Home in Soweto.

State attorney Tebogo Hutamo tried several times to dispute this, prompting objections.

Talatala then said time proved psychiatrists were right.

Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke agreed and asked Hutamo to move on.

HEARINGS

At the same time, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is holding a national hearing on the status of mental health care in the country following a number of complaints on the matter.

SAHRC chairperson Bongani Mojola says they decided to host a hearing on mental healthcare challenges following the deaths of more than 140 psychiatric patients during the Life Esidimeni moves.

“As you know, this hearing followings shocking revelations of how mental health patients were removed from Life Esidimeni, some sent to NGOs and others left to suffer and die. This due to failure to observe their rights, including their right to access to healthcare.”

Majola says the purpose of the investigation is to speedily address any violations to mental healthcare.

LISTEN: Moseneke: Esidimeni tragedy comparable to Steve Biko treatment, death

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)