Lebethe: I don’t know if Esidimeni patients were moved under strict orders

Former Gauteng Health Department deputy director-general for clinical services, Dr Richard Lebethe, has been answering questions pertaining to his role in the movement of patients where 144 people lost their lives.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Former Gauteng Health Department deputy director-general for clinical services, Dr Richard Lebethe, told the Pretoria High Court that he could not say with certainty that the officials who oversaw the transfer of psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to NGOs were working under undue pressure from the former Health MEC and head of department.

Lebethe has been answering questions pertaining to his role in the movement of patients where 144 people lost their lives.

He was asked if the committee members who were facilitating the movement of Esidimeni patients had been working under strict instructions from higher authorities who Lebethe had listed as the former MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, and former head of department, Dr Barney Selebano.

The question emanates from the statement by Dr Makgabo Manamela that she was left with no choice but to implement the project whether or not she agreed with the speed at which it was being done.

The former deputy director-general could not comment on lines of communication among officials: “I don’t know at that stage who Dr Manamela was dealing with. At the time when I got the first report, this thing was going on.”

Lebethe also said that at the time, he could not form an opinion on the speed of the project.

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