Life Esidimeni Inquest: Dr Richard Lebethe accused of lying under oath

Advocate Phyllis Vorster has been cross examining Dr Richard Lebethe who’s the former deputy director general in the department.

Dr Richard Lebethe (R) testifying at the Life Esidimeni Inquest on 9 September 2021. Picture: Judiciary RSA/YouTube screengrab.

JOHANNESBURG - The advocate representing families of some Life Esidimeni patients who died during their transfer to NGOs has sought to prove that a senior Gauteng Health Department official signed a statement under oath despite not being familiar with its contents.

Advocate Phyllis Vorster has been cross-examining Dr Richard Lebethe, who’s the former deputy director-general in the department.

Lebethe returned to the witness stand on Friday at the inquiry, which is looking into the deaths of 144 mental health patients who died at various NGOs after they were discharged from the care of Life Esidimeni facilities.

Lebethe said that he signed the statement but explained that the factual contents of it were provided by then-mental health director, Dr Makgabo Manamela.

Vorster asked Lebethe if he was admitting that he had in fact lied under oath: “You testified under oath that you have knowledge of the contents, but yet testified today, under oath again, that you had no knowledge of any of the facts contained in this statement.”

Lebethe’s lawyers objected to the line of questioning.

Lebethe has repeatedly said he was not involved in the operations of the project.

Judge Mmonao Teffo upheld the objection.

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