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Manamela knew some NGOs were ill-equipped to care for Esidimeni patients

The doctor says she was pressured by her seniors to go ahead with the project.

A screengrab of Dr Makgabo Manamela, former Gauteng director of mental health, testifying during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings on 23 November 2017. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng’s suspended head of mental health services doctor Makgabo Manamela has admitted she knew some non-governmental organisations she licensed to take in psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni were not capable.

Manamela co-headed the deadly project and is the one who signed licenses for ill-equipped NGOs that took in patients.

The doctor said she was pressured by her seniors to go ahead with the project.

Manamela was testifying for a third day on Friday at the arbitration hearings in Parktown.

The doctor agreed that she received an email from an official at the national Health Department, offering her some help.

She was asked to quote exactly what the letter entailed.

“He said that they should receive equal care to what they were getting (at Life Esidimeni).”

Following this response, retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who is leading the arbitration hearings, asked her to elaborate.

Manamela said: “The care they are going to receive should not be less than what they had received at Life Esidimeni.”

LISTEN: Manamela grilled over Esidimeni patient transfers

The suspended doctor has admitted to giving a license to an NGO that didn’t even have a building from which to operate.

Moseneke asked whether her whether she should be held accountable.

Manamela responded: “I’m part of the project team. I will take both of them, accountability and responsibility.”

However, Manamela also said she should not be the only person taking responsibility.

She pointed the finger at disgraced former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, suspended HOD Dr Barney Selebano, project leader Levy Mosenogi and owners of NGOs who took the patients in.

Moseneke warned Manamela about not telling the truth her testimony.

She was asked about unlawfully signing licenses for NGOs that didn't have capacity to look after mental ill people.

“You know ma’am, this is not a game about protecting yourself every minute. I just want the facts. I will make a decision about your credibility, it’s just a matter of time. All I want is for you to answer the questions put to you, so don’t spend a lot of time giving us explanations.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)