Ex-health dept official Lebethe to continue testimony at Esidimeni Inquest

On Friday, Richard Lebethe answered questions about the transfer of patients from the Cullinan Care Rehabilitation Centre to NGOs allegedly to make space for Esidimeni patients.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Former Gauteng Department of Health' deputy director general, Dr Richard Lebethe, will again take the stand at the Life Esidimeni Inquest on Monday morning in a virtual sitting at the High Court in Pretoria.

On Friday, Lebethe answered questions about the transfer of patients from the Cullinan Care Rehabilitation Centre to NGOs allegedly to make space for Esidimeni patients.

He said he didn’t know why the decision was taken, but said the motivation could have been similar to when hospitals across the country were overwhelmed by COVID infections.

Advocate Phyllis Vorster asked Dr Richard Lebethe if it made sense, in his opinion, to uproot healthcare patients from one facility only to replace them with others with similar needs.

Lebethe said it was not unusual to repurpose parts of a medical facility when the need arose and made an example with the COVID situation.

"It does happen that when there's an upsurge, we repurpose part of a hospital for a particular reason so as to be able to accommodate the newly infected COVID people."

However, Lebethe has repeatedly said he did not know the reason for the move as he was not directly involved in operational matters.

The cross-examination of the former DDG continues on Monday.

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