Families, officials call for MEC Mahlangu to testify
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.