ESIDIMENI: ‘It was like a bomb to us’
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.