Damning evidence against Gauteng health dept heard at Life Esidimeni inquest

The Life Esidimeni inquiry heard how patients were moved even though NGOs indicated they were not ready to receive them.

A screengrab of Judge Mmonao Teffo (top right) presides over a virtual session of the Life Esidimeni inquest on 30 August 2021.

JOHANNESBURG - More damning evidence was heard against the Gauteng Department of Health at the Life Esidimeni inquest on Friday, including how psychiatric patients were moved to NGOs even though they had indicated they were not ready to receive them.

Former nursing manager at Life Esidimeni's Waverly Care Centre, Zanele Buthelezi, had been giving evidence at the formal inquest into whether anyone should be held criminally liable for the chaotic project that resulted in the deaths of 144 patients in 2016.

Buthelezi said the transfer of patients was so rushed that NGOs were not given enough time to make provision for the large intakes.

She said while NGOs complained about this, officials at the department told her that they were simply following instructions from the top.

Buthelezi, led in evidence by Advocate Mari Marriot said the marathon transfers deviated from the processes that Life Esidimeni had been following for years when discharging patients.

“They also complained that they were under the instruction of Dr Manamela in respect of the former MEC Qedani Mahlangu and mentioned that everyone was afraid of her.”

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