Jus­tice slams doc’s re­fusal to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity

Sus­pended men­tal health boss says it was ‘col­lec­tive de­ci­sion’

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - BRENDA MASILELA

RE­TIRED deputy chief jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke who is chair­ing the Life Esidi­meni ar­bi­tra­tion was vis­i­bly an­noyed with Dr Mak­gabo Manamela af­ter she re­fused to be held re­spon­si­ble for the 143 pa­tients who died af­ter a botched re­lo­ca­tion to un­li­censed NGOs.

Moseneke asked the sus­pended di­rec­tor of men­tal health ser­vice about her role in mov­ing pa­tients from Life Esidi­meni to non-govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions (NGOs). Manamela has been dis­tanc­ing her­self from the pro­ject.

Moseneke asked: “In all the 143 deaths, what was your re­spon­si­bil­ity?”

Manamela re­sponded: “It was a col­lec­tive de­ci­sion”.

Moseneke re­it­er­ated his ques­tion again:

“My ques­tion is what is your re­spon­si­bil­ity?”

Manamela re­sponded: “To en­sure that pa­tients are given care and make sure no one dies.”

Moseneke asked her why some pa­tients died.

Manamela replied say­ing: “The post-mortem will tell us what was wrong. I was not giv­ing any nurs­ing care to pa­tients.”

Moseneke re­torted: “You have been sit­ting on that chair for three days and you have never even once taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for what hap­pened. Your col­league told us how wrong things were, but you come here and deny ev­ery­thing… In your ev­i­dence, you make it sound like noth­ing went wrong.”

Ear­lier, Molefi Mosenogi, the di­rec­tor of plan­ning, pol­icy and re­search at the Gaut­eng health depart­ment – who worked closely with Manamela dur­ing the pro­ject – tes­ti­fied be­fore the dis­pute and res­o­lu­tion com­mit­tee ad­mit­ting that the tragedy could have been avoided.

“As a depart­ment, I must say we made mis­takes. It should not have hap­pened as it hap­pened,” Mosenogi said at the time.

Yes­ter­day, Manamela de­fended her­self and said Mosenogi was shar­ing his opin­ion and she was not obliged to agree with him.

Moseneke pre­sented Manamela with more ev­i­dence on how wrongly things were done dur­ing the mov­ing of pa­tients, in­clud­ing trans­port­ing them in bakkies.

Manamela said her col­leagues were mis­in­formed and in­sisted that the depart­ment or­gan­ised buses to trans­port pa­tients.

Dur­ing the pro­ject, Manamela was in charge of is­su­ing li­cences to NGOs, and ac­cord­ing to her, only one NGO was op­er­at­ing without a li­cence.

How­ever, it was re­vealed that some of the NGOs were un­li­censed.

Some of her du­ties in­volved her go­ing to the fa­cil­i­ties and in­spect whether the NGO fit­ted the pur­pose to cater for men­tally ill pa­tients. Out of 27 cen­tres, she went to only four.

Moseneke asked Manamela if she knew how bad things were at the NGOs.

She strug­gled to an­swer the ques­tion with clar­ity.

“An­swer the ques­tion… don’t spend so much time on one ques­tion. It’s not a game about you pro­tect­ing your­self. I’m the one who will de­cide on your cred­i­bil­ity,” said Moseneke.

Through her tes­ti­mony, Manamela never ad­mit­ted that she was li­able for the deaths or even con­ceded that the deaths were oc­curred as a re­sult of the move.

“What hap­pened was a col­lec­tive en­deav­our…

“All pro­ject team mem­bers have to be held re­spon­si­ble; even the NGOs have to take re­spon­si­bil­ity,” she said

Moseneke re­minded Manamela that her salary re­flected her level of su­pe­ri­or­ity which also in­di­cated that she was a leader.

“You see as a leader, you take re­spon­si­bil­ity, hence you are given pow­ers to make de­ci­sions,” he said.

Manamela ar­gued that lead­ers are not re­spon­si­ble but ac­count­able.

The hear­ing con­tin­ues.– ANA

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