; The Esidimeni dead haunt Mahlangu, while a mansion haunts Hlongwa – The Citizen

The Esidimeni dead haunt Mahlangu, while a mansion haunts Hlongwa

Two bodyguards stand guard to former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu as she consults her legal team during the first day of her representations to the Life Esidimeni Arbitration in Parktown, 22 January 2018. Image: Refilwe Modise

Two bodyguards stand guard to former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu as she consults her legal team during the first day of her representations to the Life Esidimeni Arbitration in Parktown, 22 January 2018. Image: Refilwe Modise

The new ANC PEC will discuss the Mahlangu and Hlongwa issues at its first meeting and there are hints of party disciplinary action against them.

The ANC in Gauteng says none of its newly elected provincial executive committee (PEC) members, nor former health MECs Qedani Mahlangu and Brian Hlongwa, are off the hook for shenanigans that happened when they were still in the provincial government.

Newly elected ANC provincial chairperson David Makhura and his deputy, Panyaza Lesufi, said no stone would be left unturned when dealing with the issues surrounding Mahlangu and Hlongwa, who is currently ANC chief whip.

Mahlangu was blamed, along with two senior department officials, for the plight of 144 Life Esidimeni psychiatric patients who died as a result of being illegally transferred by the department into the care of ill-equipped and unqualified nongovernmental organisations.

Mahlangu resigned over the issue and later apologised to the families during the arbitration process, headed by retired former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke.

But opposition parties demanded that Mahlangu, along with the former department head, Barney Selebano, and former mental health chief Makgabo Manamela be held personally accountable for the tragedy.

Hlongwa was implicated in a Special Investigation Unit probe into corruption amounting to R1.2 billion, which also involved the purchase and rebuilding of a luxury mansion in a gated community.

This was allegedly part of kickbacks Hlongwa and a few of his health department officials received from companies that did business with the provincial health department during his tenure as MEC.

They were also allegedly offered various trips funded by 3P Consulting firm between 2006 to 2009, of which the SIU report found “no evidence of Hlongwa declaring the trips or paying/ reimbursing 3P Consulting for these trips”.

Hlongwa has denied any wrongdoing, simply dismissing the allegations.

Makhura said the new PEC would discuss the Mahlangu and Hlongwa issues at its first meeting and a delegation would be sent to the ethics committee, hinting that the two members might face disciplinary processes.

Lesufi said nobody would be shielded by the party if there was clear evidence of wrongdoing.

Among its crucial resolutions, the Gauteng ANC decided to lead a campaign for the scrapping of the dreaded Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (e-tolls). The action would include peaceful marches to the provincial and national governments, the party said yesterday.

Makhura said the tolling of the province’s highways put an extra financial burden on already squeezed consumers.

Last year, road agency Sanral was forced to scrap a R3.6 billion debt owed by motorists for e-tolls. The majority of road users have refused to pay the tax.

Makhura has been calling for e-tolls to be scrapped since his inauguration in 2014, while also raising the issue with President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is said to be seriously considering doing away with the system entirely.

ANC provincial secretary Jacob Khawe told a post-ANC provincial conference media briefing in Johannesburg yesterday the conference decided to call on provincial government to expedite its negotiation with the national government to find a permanent solution to the saga.

He said the ANC would lead from the front and never again leave the process to other organisations.

ALSO READ: Consign e-tolls to the dustbin of history

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