Finance MEC Creecy added to Life Esidimeni witness list
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)
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