More testimony discredits decisions made for Esidimeni patients

Dr Richard Lebethe said he was not involved in the vetting of NGOs that would receive mental healthcare patients from Esidimeni centres.

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

JOHANNESBURG - A former senior official in the Gauteng Department of Health has told the Life Esidimeni Inquest he was concerned that some NGOs earmarked to house mental health patients were not suitable for that purpose.

Dr Richard Lebethe was the deputy director-general for clinical services in the department. The inquest in the High Court in Pretoria is looking into the deaths of 144 mental health patients in 2016.

On Thursday, Lebethe said he was not involved in the vetting of NGOs that would receive mental healthcare patients from Esidimeni centres.

However, he said he did visit some facilities including Precious Angels in Atteridgeville and said it was not suitable.

“It was in a mountainous area with lots of steps if you need to go into the house.”

Lebethe said he also visited the NGO in Danville facility, which was better, but still with not enough space to accommodate the number of people who were there.

He will return for cross examination on Friday.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.