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HomeMedico-LegalLife Esidimeni inquest postponed as MEC’s lawyers unpaid

Life Esidimeni inquest postponed as MEC’s lawyers unpaid

The inquest into the Life Esidimeni deaths has been postponed to May because the State Attorney has failed to pay the lawyers of former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, who was due to appear in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) on Tuesday.

Mahlangu’s legal representative, Laurence Hodes, said he was owed about R250 000, reports TimesLIVE, but payment is expected next week so he has asked the court to postpone the matter until 2 May.

Mahlangu headed the Health Department when 141 mental health patients died after being moved from Life Esidimeni to NGOs.

The inquest is to determine if anyone should be held criminally liable for the deaths after the contract with Life Esidimeni was cancelled. Two reports found the cancellation and deaths at the NGO facilities were “irrational”.

In 2018, then Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said the deaths and “torture” at the NGO facilities stemmed from “irrational and arrogant use of public power”.

This was also stated in 2017 by Health Ombud Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, who found the cancellation of the contract between the Health Department and Life Esidimeni was “fundamentally flawed, irrational, unwise and inhumane”.

Post-mortem reports found some of the deceased mental patients had plastic in their stomachs, apparently consumed out of desperation and hunger.

But Mahlangu rejected the findings and blamed colleagues Dr Tiego Selebano and Dr Makgabo Manamela for not disclosing there was insufficient food at the NGOs.

Meanwhile, the Gauteng legislature revealed in February that R405m will be paid to the affected families.


TimesLIVE article – Life Esidimeni inquest postponed as Qedani Mahlangu's lawyers not paid (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Buck-passing at Life Esidimeni inquest


Life Esidimeni deaths: ‘Not the fault of Health MEC’


Mental health still last in line seven years after Life Esidimeni


Life Esidimeni victims, families, paid R405m





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