Fi­nance MEC Creecy added to Life Esidi­meni wit­ness list

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

GAUT­ENG Fi­nance MEC Bar­bara Creecy will be called to the stand ei­ther to cor­rob­o­rate or re­fute the tes­ti­mony of one of her for­mer col­leagues in the ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ings look­ing into the deaths of 143 psy­chi­atric pa­tients.

Tes­ti­fy­ing this week about the trans­fer of pa­tients from the Life Esidi­meni fa­cil­ity to sev­eral un­reg­is­tered non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions (NGOs) – which led to the deaths of pa­tients mostly from de­hy­dra­tion, star­va­tion and neg­li­gence – for­mer health MEC Qedani Mahlangu blamed fi­nan­cial con­straints.

Creecy, who was not on the of­fi­cial wit­ness list, will be called to pro­vide clar­ity on the pro­vin­cial health de­part­ment’s fi­nances af­ter State ad­vo­cate Te­bogo Hu­tamo said her tes­ti­mony was cru­cial to pro­vide ev­i­dence on ques­tions for which they did not have an­swers.

The pro­vin­cial health de­part­ment said the de­ci­sion to move the pa­tients had been aimed at cut­ting costs as it was spend­ing R320 a pa­tient a day as op­posed to R112 a day – the price NGOs were charg­ing.

Le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Le­gal Aid and Sec­tion 27 ex­pressed con­cern over the ad­di­tion to the wit­ness list, fear­ing it would pro­long the hear­ings.

Chair­per­son of the hear­ings, re­tired deputy chief jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke, said Creecy’s tes­ti­mony was rel­e­vant as it would pro­vide an­swers on whether cost-cut­ting had been the real rea­son be­hind the ter­mi­na­tion of the health de­part­ment’s con­tract with Life Esidi­meni.

Creecy is ex­pected to tes­tify on Tues­day along with Gaut­eng pre­mier David Makhura. Their tes­ti­monies will be fol­lowed by Health MEC Gwen Ramok­gopa and Health Min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi on Wed­nes­day.

Christof­fel Grob­ler, a psy­chi­a­trist, said the De­part­ment of Health had not put enough thought into the de­in­sti­tu­tion­al­i­sa­tion of pa­tients. – African News Agency (ANA)

PIC­TURE: HENK KRUGER/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

The lux­u­ri­ous ocean liner Queen Mary 2 docked at Cape Town har­bour yes­ter­day.

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