Qedani Mahlangu’s lawyers pin Life Esidemeni saga on national health dept

Advocate Laurence Hodes asked former managing director of Life Esidimeni Group, Morgan Mkhatshwa, on the foundations of the mental health policy believed to have led to the tragedy.

FILE: Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu gives testimony at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing in Johannesburg on 22 January 2018. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Lawyers representing former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu have suggested that the decisions made regarding the handling of mental health patients started from the National Department of Health.

This was raised at the Life Esidimeni Inquest, which resumed on Monday morning following a postponement earlier this month to allow legal representatives time to consult with their clients.

Advocate Laurence Hodes asked former managing director of Life Esidimeni Group, Morgan Mkhatshwa, on the foundations of the mental health policy believed to have led to the tragedy.

“The national policy to reduce the number of beds was taken by the then-minister of health and not by the MEC, my client. Do you agree with me?”

Mkatshwa responded: “I beg to disagree; the national framework at that time did not have any timelines but the timelines were given by the Gauteng Department of Health.”

The inquest is tasked with determining whether anyone should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 psychiatric patients who were moved to ill-equipped and illegal NGOs in 2016.

WATCH: Life Esidimeni inquest resumes in Pretoria High Court

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