The Gauteng health department’s chief director of planning Levy Mosenogi, who was in charge of the Life Esidimeni project, brought tears to the families on Wednesday, when he apologised over the Esidimeni relocation that resulted in the deaths of 118 mental patients.
He told arbitration chairman, retired Justice Dikgang Moseneke that he tried his best but that he was faced with a mammoth task.
“It was difficult for me… I want to apologise to all those affected. I accept that I have hurt people…I have engaged with the families, who shouted at me as we could not find each other. I apologise on behalf of myself, my colleagues and the department of health,” he said, as visibly emotional families and relatives struggled to hold back tears.
“I know you still need healing, I still need to heal myself.”
Am emotional Mosenogi appealed to his organisation, the governing African National Congress (ANC) to make sure that qualified and seasoned health professionals are placed to run the health department, which he described as “complex”.
“As senior public servants we need to speak truth to power. Can administrators, meaning the technocrats please be allowed to their jobs, and politicians do the oversight work,” he said.
Earlier, Mosenogi said although his deputy project manager was suspended, he did not face any disciplinary process. He led a team of 20 people for Esidimeni and still occupies his post in the provincial department.
Former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned in the wake of the tragedy, while head of department Barney Selebano was suspended.
Moseneke asked Mosenogi what happened to other officials in his team and those who worked on the relocation of patients.
“Most of the team members had disciplinary processes instituted against them. The director of Tshwane region was transferred to Ekurhuleni, he appealed and won. No other action was taken against the other officials that I know of.”
There was no debriefing or assessment of what had happened, he added.
“After the HOD was suspended and MEC resigned, the moral was very low. New leadership came in…but the work relationship was not good….I think someone should have at least gathered us all together and assess what hapened on the Esidimeni project, but that did not happen. We were not talking to each.”