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Esidimeni tragedy a wake-up call for mental health sector, panel told

Dikeledi Manaka, who works at the Cullinan Care and Rehab Centre in Pretoria, testified for two days at the arbitration hearings in Parktown.

Nursing manager Dikeledi Manaka. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - A deputy nursing manager from a facility where Esidimeni patients died says that although the tragedy is sad, she also sees it as a wake-up call to the mental healthcare fraternity, not only in South Africa but the world.

Dikeledi Manaka, who works at the Cullinan Care and Rehab Centre in Pretoria, testified for two days at the arbitration hearings in Parktown.

One hundred and forty-three people died after the Gauteng Health Department terminated its contract with the Life Esidimeni group, allegedly to save costs.

The patients were moved to ill-equipped NGOs.

Manaka has admitted she and her colleagues compromised the well-being of dozens of patients and went against their oaths, but argued that they had no choice.

Manaka was given the opportunity to make closing remarks by retired deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

“Mental health has been having difficulties and this one put a rubber stamp on it.”

She says the world has never treated mentally ill people fairly and she hopes the Esidimeni tragedy and the arbitration hearings will help.

The hearings continue on Thursday with testimony from the family members of those who died.