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Mahlangu: Esidimeni tragedy the most painful event in SA's healthcare system

Former Gauteng Heath MEC Qedani Mahlangu shed some tears while telling the hearings that the department had "good intentions" when it decided to terminate its contract with the Life Esidimeni group.

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu testifies at the Life Esidimeni hearing on 22 January 2018 in Parktown. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has described the Esidimeni tragedy as the most painful event in the country’s healthcare system.

Mahlangu has apologised to the families of the 143 victims while taking the stand at the arbitration hearings in Parktown for the first time on Monday.

She was given the opportunity to read out a prepared a statement.

Mahlangu shed some tears while telling the hearings that the department had "good intentions" when it decided to terminate its contract with the Life Esidimeni group.

The former Gauteng Health MEC apologised to family members and some started to cry as she read from her prepared statement.

“The loss of life our country experienced following the termination of Life Esidimeni service level agreement is certainly one of the most painful incidents ever in the history of the South African health system. To the members of the families who lost their loved ones, I am deeply sorry for your loss.”

Other family members started to heckle, telling her not to cry as their loved ones died because of her decisions.

Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke had to intervene.

“Again, the witness is entitled to some level of dignity. So allow her to say what she says, please.”

Mahlangu resigned on the eve of the damning report by the Health Ombudsman, which found that legal processes were ignored from the start of the deadly project.

Meanwhile, dozens of members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) have filled the streets surrounding the venue, calling Mahlangu a murderer.

They are marching in solidarity with the families of the victims.

They have handed over a memorandum of grievances to an official from Gauteng Premier David Makhura's office.

The TAC's Sibongile Tshabalala said: "As we are here today, it’s not like we are happy, it’s not like we are proud of our politicians. We are not happy, we are angry. We cannot vote for you and you come back and murder us."

WATCH LIVE: Qedani Mahlangu begins testimony

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