The Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings into the deaths of 143 mentally ill patients on Thursday, heard that former Gauteng health member of executive council (MEC) Qedani Mahlangu did not consult Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi before implementing the deadly project.
Mahlangu was the chair of the Provincial Health Council, but she said she does not remember if the council discussed the Life Esidimeni contract.
“I don’t have the minutes of the meeting,” she replied to advocate Lila Crouse from Legal Aid South Africa.
Crouse retorted: “When you took the decision you didn’t seek the statutory bodies council?”
Mahlangu responded saying: “That forum discusses policy…if I had the info I have now, I would have had a discussion with the minister.”
Crouse told Mahlangu that as the MEC, she should have realised that the contract should be discussed at the council.
Mahlangu answered saying: “Maybe.”
Crouse retorted: “That’s an irresponsible answer.”
Not giving clarity, Mahlangu said: “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
Retired Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who is chairing the hearing, told Mahlangu that Section 140 of the constitution requires that decisions which have legal effects taken by the premier, must be reduced to writing and counter signed by the MEC.
“We know from your testimony that this did not happen,” he said.
“The minister is of the view you should have brought the matter to the National Health. Do you agree?”
Mahlangu said: “Hindsight is the best sight.”
Crouse put it to Mahlangu that she did not act in a way that a political leader should have acted. Mahlangu disagreed with Crouse and said she did not have the information she has now.
Crouse retorted: “I am trying to find out what your thought process was during this project.”
Sounding irritable, Mahlangu said: “No, I cannot go back and trace my thoughts Madam.”
Crouse asked whether the cancellation of the project a decision with legal consequences.
“I don’t understand your question, I am not a lawyer,” Mahlangu said.
After butting heads with Crouse, Mahlangu opted to speak in Zulu and required an aid of a translator but abandoned it within five minutes.
– African News Agency (ANA)