ESIDIMENI: ‘It was like a bomb to us’

The Star Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TEBOGO MONAMA tebogo.monama@inl.co.za

UN­DER-re­sourced NGOs were in­structed to take as many psy­chi­atric pa­tients as a bus could carry de­spite space con­straints at their fa­cil­i­ties.

Dikeledi Manaka, a nurse at the Cul­li­nan Care and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre (CCRC), told the Life Esidimeni al­ter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion that when they went to fetch psy­chi­atric pa­tients in Rand­fontein, they were given an ex­tra nine pa­tients.

“We were not sup­posed to go to Life Esidimeni Rand­fontein but to Waver­ley. When we got to Rand­fontein, pa­tients were ready for us.

“They (of­fi­cials) asked us what trans­port we came in and we said a 26-seater bus,” Manaka said.

She said for­mer Gaut­eng head of the men­tal health re­view board Dr Mak­gabo Manamela said “we must take as many pa­tients as the bus can carry”.

The pa­tients, Manaka said, didn’t fit the cri­te­ria of pa­tients cared for at the CCRC.

The pa­tients were moved as part of the Gaut­eng Health De­part­ment’s men­tal health marathon project to cut costs. A to­tal of 143 pa­tients died.

Manaka said she and her team re­fused to take the ex­tra pa­tients, but Manamela called the CCRC’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Mpho Ny­atlo, who in­structed them to fol­low or­ders.

To make space for the Life Esidimeni pa­tients, the CCRC trans­ferred some pa­tients to the An­chor House and Siyabadinga NGOs within the in­sti­tu­tion.

Manaka said the trans­fer pro­ce­dures were han­dled by Ny­atlo, a ra­dio­g­ra­pher, and not a trained doc­tor.

Manaka said: “We tried as the lower cat­e­gory of man­agers (to say) this is not go­ing to be right. Even be­fore it started.

“We said if we were to take those pa­tients in a smaller group, we would man­age. The way it was done, it was like a bomb to us. We didn’t have time to build rap­port with the pa­tients.”

She added: “We cried and said this is not okay. We com­plained, but the chief ex­ec­u­tive said it was an or­der and we have to fol­low them.”

Manamela is ex­pected to ap­pear on Mon­day. She had chal­lenged the first sub­poena she re­ceived, be­cause the date on it was wrong. She also ap­pealed against the find­ings of the health om­buds­man, but lost the ap­peal.

The com­mis­sion yes­ter­day heard she was will­ing to ap­pear on con­di­tion the state paid her le­gal fees. Manamela is cur­rently sus­pended, while re­ceiv­ing her full salary.

Dr Tiego Sele­bano also lost his ap­peal.

He is now tak­ing the ar­bi­tra­tion to court in or­der to try to have the sub­poena set the aside.

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