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Emotional Motsoaledi apologises to families of Esidimeni victims

Aaron Motsoaledi is the last witness in a hearing that was established to find closure for families of over 100 mentally ill patients who died.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi testifies at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings on 31 January 2018. Picture: YouTube screengrab.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has broken down at Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings on Wednesday as he apologised to families of the victims.

Motsaledi has been on the witness stand at the hearings in Parktown on Wednesday evening.

He is the last witness in a hearing that was established to find closure for families of over 100 mentally ill patients who died as a result of the disastrous moves.

Trying to hold back the tears, Motsoaledi says it's unimaginable that human rights were violated in such a way in a democracy.

“When I read the health ombudsman's report about how people were bundled in vans, tied with sheets and chosen like cattle at an auction, I couldn’t imagine that in our new democracy.”

The health minister has called the Esidimeni transfer project “criminal”, saying doctors were wrong in discharging psychiatric patients as a collective when each patient's illness was unique.

He says what pains him is the disregard for the law shown by senior officials in the Gauteng Health Department.

“Doctors discharge patients on the basis of groups, that’s not allowed. You can’t sit as a doctor and say, ‘I’m discharging this group of patients them because of this and that reason’. Each patient must be discharged as an individual.”

WATCH: Aaron Motsoaledi testifies at the Esidimeni hearings

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