Former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu is scheduled to appear today at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings. And DA Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom says he hopes she will not engage in “any more stalling tactics” and that she “testifies openly and truthfully without her previous arrogance that led to this tragedy in which 143 people died”.
Bloom said officials who have appeared at the hearings have described “a climate of fear” that arose from Mahlangu’s determination to cancel the Esidimeni contract and send patients to unsuitable NGOs.
Since the hearings began, a number of government health department officials implicated in the scandal have handed in their resignations.
They include Dr Barney Selebano, the head of the Gauteng health department, and Dr Makgabo Manamela, the head of the mental health section.
“Mahlangu should seek to make amends with honest testimony and a sincere apology to the relatives of the victims who have suffered so much from her ill-considered actions,” said Bloom.
“She should acknowledge her personal and direct responsibility for this terrible tragedy rather than blaming officials.”
Bloom said Mahlangu, as the political head of the department, needed to answer a number of questions, including:
- What were the true reasons for cancelling the Esidimeni contract when a study commissioned by the department found that it was cost-effective and provided good care?
- Why did she ignore warnings that moving so many patients to NGOs would lead to deaths?
- What information did she provide to Premier David Makhura and the executive council in this matter?