Former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu responsible for Life Esidimeni, court rules

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ruled that some of the deaths at Life Esidimeni were due to negligence on the part of the province’s former Health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu.

Judge Mmonoa Teffo delivered her findings into the Life Esidimeni inquest on Wednesday.

Life Esidimeni inquest judgment

Teffo ruled that Mahlangu and former director of Gauteng’s mental health services, Dr Makgabo Manamela were responsible for the deaths of nine patients.

“Ms Mahlangu proceeded to terminate the contract between the Life Esidimeni care centre and the Gauteng Department of Health despite numerous expert advice and warnings from the professionals in mental health.

“The deceased were further moved out the Life Esidimeni facilities to NGOs which were not equipped and inexperienced to give proper and adequate care in providing the requisite mental health care,” she said on Wednesday.

The judge emphasised that the deaths could have been avoided.

“In respect of Dr Makgabo Manamela, she proceeded to hastily facilitate the implantation of the termination plan against expert advice from professionals and stakeholders.

ALSO READ: Esidimeni families relive tragedy of 144 deaths

“She could have saved many lives as she visited the NGOs and could see that they were not adequately equipped and some of the personal were not adequately qualified to care for the mental health care users,” Teffo continued.

She noted that some of the NGOs were tasked with caring for patients despite not following the prescribed protocols.

“Effectively, Ms Qedani Mahlangu and Dr Makgabo Manamela created the circumstances in which the deaths were inevitable.”

Regarding the deaths for which no autopsy was performed, Teffo was unable to make a determination.

The judge detailed how one of a 50-year-old woman suffered from malnutrion, dehydration and gangrene, which contributed to her death.

Watch the proceedings below:

The Life Esidimeni inquest investigated the deaths of 144 mental health patients to determine if anyone can be held criminally liable for the 2016 tragedy.

The patients died following their relocation, which was a result of the termination of a contract, from the Life Esidimeni facilities to various NGOs.

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