Life Esidimeni prices were not exorbitant - Mkhatshwa

Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa, the former managing director at Life Esidimeni, was responding to accusations that the Gauteng Health Department could no longer afford the fees due to price gouging.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The former managing director at Life Esidimeni said that it was not true that prices attached to the care of psychiatric patients at the facility were exorbitant.

Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa was responding to accusations that the Gauteng Health Department could no longer afford the fees due to price gouging.

Mkhatshwa has been giving testimony at the Esidimeni inquest, which is looking into the chaotic relocation project by the department that resulted in the deaths of 144 patients in 2016.

Earlier this week, then-Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu's lawyer, Advocate Laurence Hodes, told the inquest that one of the main reasons why the department had to terminate its contract with the Life Group was because of the company's exorbitant annual price increases.

But Dr Mkhatshwa has denied this, saying that Life Esidimeni was cost-effective for the level of care offered to patients.

While leading him in evidence, his lawyer, Advocate Harry van Bergen, sought to demonstrate to the court that Life Esidimeni's prices were much lower than other facilities that were being used by the Gauteng Health Department.

"Even though it was a facility with a comparable service structure to Life Esidimeni, there appears to be a much high cost involved."

The department has always maintained that the contract with Life Esidimeni was terminated as a cost-cutting measure.

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