Fam­i­lies, of­fi­cials call for MEC Mahlangu to tes­tify

The New Age (Gauteng) - - NEWS - LER­ATO DIALE ler­a­tod@the­newage.co.za

CALLS for for­mer health and so­cial de­vel­op­ment MEC Qedani Mahlangu to ap­pear be­fore the Life Esidi­meni ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ing are in­creas­ing as wit­ness after wit­ness has pointed fin­gers at her.

Di­rec­tor gen­eral in the of­fice of the premier, Phindile Baleni, be­came the most re­cent gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial to sug­gest that Mahlangu must ap­pear be­fore the hear­ing to tes­tify.

Baleni was speak­ing dur­ing day four of the hear­ing in Jo­han­nes­burg.

This after the di­rec­tor gen­eral of the na­tional Depart­ment of Health also ques­tioned why she had not been called be­fore jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke to ac­count for the tragedy.

Fam­i­lies have also called for Mahlangu to tes­tify, say­ing her ab­sence at the hear­ing was baf­fling.

Baleni said Mahlangu was not called as a wit­ness as she would be a hos­tile wit­ness, but said she should still be called be­fore the hear­ing to an­swer.

Mahlangu re­signed shortly be­fore health om­buds­man Male­ga­puru Mak­goba re­leased a re­port on the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the deaths of at least 118 psy­chi­atric pa­tients.

Ear­lier, dur­ing ex­am­i­na­tion, it was re­vealed that seven pa­tients had died and still needed to be iden­ti­fied and their fam­ily mem­bers traced.

Baleni would not say whether or not Mahlangu was forced to re­sign, say­ing only that “the mat­ter was set­tled po­lit­i­cally”.

Baleni was the fourth wit­ness to be called by the state.

This as the state seeks to demon­strate that the gov­ern­ment has taken steps to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion in the form of im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions con­tained in the re­port.

She said while the pace of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the deaths by the SAPS was slow, they were do­ing their best. She said in­ves­ti­ga­tors had been as­signed.

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