Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the government has subpoenaed three former Gauteng health executives, including former MEC Qedani Mahlangu, to have them testify at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings, reports Eyewitness News. Motsoaledi has also said that former director of mental health in Gauteng Makgabo Manamela should now be reported to the South African Nursing Council for ethical misconduct.
Mahlangu is one of the key witnesses, given that she signed off on the Esidimeni project. Some 141 psychiatric patients died after the Health Department terminated its contract with Esidimeni.
The report says Motsoaledi was speaking on the sidelines after President Jacob Zuma’s visit to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane. Motsoaledi says the government has done its part in terms of making sure Mahlangu testifies at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings.
“On Monday, the government subpoenaed three people, the HOD who’s been put on suspension, Dr Makgabo Manamela and the MEC. They’ve been subpoenaed to appear in December. We’re hoping they will because if they don’t, then you ask Justice Dikgang Moseneke, the matter will no longer be on our hands.”
The report says retired Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke has made it clear that the arbitration will not conclude until Mahlangu and her former HOD and director for mental health have appeared before him.
Motsoaledi has also said that former director of mental health in Gauteng Makgabo Manamela should now be reported to the South African Nursing Council for ethical misconduct for her role in the Esidimeni tragedy. Eyewitness News reports that this was after Manamela lost her bid to appeal the findings made against her by the Health Ombudsman.
The independent ad hoc tribunal headed by retired judge president of the High Court Bernard Ngoepe dismissed Manamela’s appeal recently. The tribunal was established by Motsoaledi in March this year. Motsoaledi says this shows that health ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba’s findings against Manamela are true.
“Meaning the Gauteng Health Department has got a right to take her through a disciplinary process and we must also report her to the nursing council for ethical misconduct. The judge confirmed that the health ombudsman was actually correct in everything he said.”
The report says a verdict on former provincial health HOD Doctor Barney Selebano’s appeal is yet to be heard.
Manamela remains suspended on full pay until her disciplinary action is now completed, reports The Times.
In the arbitration hearings that have sought to understand what happened‚ it emerged Manamela was at the forefront of the project. Ngutshana said earlier last week that Manamela had rejected the subpoena to attend the arbitration hearings because her lawyers said she was appealing the ombudsman’s report. However‚ the appeal process is now complete.
According to the report, Moseneke has said he will not end the Esidimeni hearings until Manamela testifies. Moseneke said he had told lawyers repeatedly in his chambers to ensure she and the former MEC attend. “I have continually directed steps must be taken so we have them here. We are not going to run out of time … unless I die‚” he said in a joking manner.
In other testimony at the hearings‚ the report says Manamela’s involvement in the deadly move has been made clear. Dorothy Franks‚ who ran Anchor NGO‚ where five people died‚ testified she was “pressured” by Manamela to take patients. Dianne Noyile‚ who ran Siyabadinga NGO where patients died‚ testified Manamela physically moved beds into two NGOs operating on the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre’s premises in order to squeeze more patients into a small space.
The premises of the two NGOs became overcrowded and patients died in both. In the hearings‚ witnesses testified Manamela knew that NGOs such as Precious Angels that took patients did not have adequate food‚ money or staff to look after sick people.
Manamela knew that Siyabadinga NGO didn’t have enough food‚ money or space for patients but Noyile testified Manamela asked her to look after a few extra patients over the weekend and promised she would fetch the extra patients in a few days‚ but never did.
When the head of the Mental Health Review board‚ Dumi Masondo‚ whose job was to oversee Manamela‚ enquired about the move, Manamela also told Masondo “everything was fine”. When Masondo answered the ombudsman’s emails enquiring about the tragedy‚ the report says Manamela illegally checked them first.
The ombudsman found that Manamela had issued illegal licences to ill-equipped NGOs to take patients.