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Why did you not heed warnings over Esidimeni project, Mahlangu asked

Qedani Mahlangu says despite the warnings, she had no reason not to believe the HOD and director of mental health services when they told her the project was going well.

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has been questioned about letters and emails she received from psychology organisations, civil society groups and doctors cautioning her against the Esidimeni project and why she refused to heed the warnings.

Mahlangu has confirmed she received a letter from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) in which she was informed about the dangerous conditions at NGOs and that patients were dying in large numbers.

She is testifying for a second day at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings in Parktown, explaining her role in the project that resulted in 143 deaths.

Despite several emails, warnings, three court cases and a protest by some families, the Gauteng Health Department went ahead with the disastrous project.

On Wednesday, Mahlangu has found herself back in the hot seat, after confirming she received an email from Sadag in September 2016, warning her that things were falling apart.

The email detailed a number of concerns, including that bodies were piling up at a mortuary in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria.

Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke pressed Mahlangu on why she did not deal with the contents of this email accordingly.

Moseneke said: “Professionals warn you there are difficulties at hospitals, policy framework warns you, and you still decide to shut down Life Esidimeni, that calls for an explanation.”

Mahlangu maintains she had no reason not to believe her former HOD and director of mental health services when they told her the project was going well.

WATCH: Esidimeni: Qedani Mahlangu resumes testimony