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Life Esidimeni: Gauteng Health Dept’s finances under scrutiny

Health officials cited financial constraints as one of the reasons for terminating the contract with the Life Esidimeni group.

The Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing sitting in Parktown, Johannesburg. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings are expected to resume this morning with the testimony of Gauteng Finance MEC Barbara Creecy who will be giving insights into the financial affairs of the province’s Health Department.

Health officials cited financial constraints as one of the reasons for terminating its contract with the Life Esidimeni group.

The chaotic patient transfer project resulted in the deaths of at least 144 patients at illegally licensed NGOs.

Creecy’s testimony is expected to clarify the Gauteng Health Department’s monetary issues and contradictions that have been raised by witnesses regarding a lack of funds to continue paying life Esidimeni for mental health care services.

During his testimony last year the group’s former CEO Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa said he had suggested to former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu that government buy Esidimeni’s psychiatric facilities, but was told there was simply no money for that.

This was in stark contrast to what the department’s chief director of planning and research Levy Mosenogi has said, which was that he was surprised to see in the budget that they could, in fact, afford the facilities.

Mahlangu herself admitted last week that the department ended up incurring more costs after cutting ties with Esidimeni.

Creecy has been called to the witness stand as Finance MEC to clear these discrepancies.

Her testimony is expected to be short and followed by that of current Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi is expected to take the witness stand after that.