The University of Bedfordshire has suspended former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu from her studies ‘given the severity of the allegations’ against her at the Life Esidimeni tribunal.
However, Mahlangu’s lawyer‚ Angelo Christophorou‚ says he cannot confirm media reports that his client has been suspended from her university abroad. “We are taking instructions from our client‚” he is quoted in The Times as saying. The Citizen reported that Mahlangu was studying at the Global Banking School not the University of Bedfordshire but that the University of Bedfordshire was the awarding body for her Masters of Business Administration degree at the Global Banking School.
Christophorou said the only knowledge he had was that she was studying at the University of Bedfordshire and he was investigating allegations of her suspension.
According to the report in The Citizen, although an independent institute, the Global Banking School is affiliated to the University of Bedfordshire and offers an MBA programme in Banking.
The report says it was informed by university spokesperson Ulrika Meegolla that the information that Mahlangu was studying for an MBA at the University of Bedfordshire was, as a matter of fact, incorrect.
The Global School of Banking, in addition to the MBA programme, offers a BSc Hons in Business and Finance and a postgraduate certificate in global investment and finance offered over a three-month period.
“Ms Mahlangu is studying at Global Banking School, not at the University of Bedfordshire, which, however, is the awarding body,” Meegolla said.
The report says the information was provided by Christophorou, of Biccario Bollo Mariano Inc who wrote: “Our client (Mahlangu) presently resides in London, and is a full-time student, registered with the University of Bedfordshire, where she is registered for a second Masters (MBA),” in a letter that demands The Times newspaper correct the information that she is studying at the London School of Economics (LSE).
“Nevertheless, given the severity of the allegations, Ms Mahlangu has been suspended from her studies at the Global Banking School on a without-prejudice basis in the light of information relating to a tribunal in South Africa,” the University of Bedfordshire spokesperson is quoted in the report as saying.
The Times reports there had been widespread speculation as to Mahlangu’s whereabouts and whether she will testify. Some reports suggested she was studying at the LSE. Two weeks ago, a small group of UK activists protested at the LSE, calling for Mahlangu to attend the arbitration hearings. It was then revealed she was not studying there. Mahlangu’s attorney said she had never been studying at the LSE.
The evidence leader at the arbitration hearings, Patrick Ngutshana, testified last week that Mahlangu had agreed to appear at the hearings between 18 and 31 January 2018. Retired deputy Chief Justice Moseneke, however, suggested she be subpoenaed.
According to the report, Moseneke said he would not consider the hearings closed until Mahlangu and two other senior officials had testified. “Steps must be taken so we have them here. We are not going to run out of time,” he told advocates.
A local subpoena does not have legal jurisdiction outside of South Africa, explained criminal attorney Ian Levitt in the report.
Also, Dr Tiego Selebano, the suspended head of the Gauteng Health Department, has approached the High Court to set aside the subpoena ordering him to appear at the hearings, reports News24.
Selebano, along with Mahlangu, and Dr Makgabo Manamela, the suspended director of the mental health review board, were identified as three key witnesses to testify what led to the deaths of at least 141 mental health patients who were moved from Life Esidimeni to a number of unlicensed NGOs.
The report says the State’s advocate, Tebogo Hutamo, informed the hearings on Wednesday that Selebano approached the High Court to urgently set aside the subpoena which requested him to appear before the hearings in early December.
Advocate Dirk Groenewald, who was appearing on behalf of three families, said Selebano was still an employee of the Gauteng Department of Health and would therefore have to appear at the hearings if his employer requested him to do so.
According to the report, Groenewald said Selebano would be liable to further disciplinary action from his employer if he failed to do so.