”Family members were against the transfer of their relatives to other unregistered NGO’s”

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A former professional nurse at the Life Esidimeni Group, Zanele Buthelezi, has told the Life Esidimeni Inquest, into the deaths of 144 mentally-ill patients in the High Court in Pretoria, that some family members were against the transfer of their relatives to other unregistered and ill-equipped NGO’s.

Buthelezi, who had worked at the centre for more than 20 years, is the second employee of Life Esidimeni to testify at the inquest this week.

This after former Managing Director, Dr. Morgan Mkhatshwa completed testimony on Thursday afternoon.

Buthelezi says families felt they were not given sufficient time to prepare for the relocation of the patients.

Her legal representative, Ric Martins, says former Gauteng MEC Qedani Mahlangu, ignored the family members’ requests.

On Thursday Mkhatshwa said the centre was at some stage compelled to borrow funds from an external source after the Gauteng Health Department appeared reluctant to approve more funding for the running of the facility.

Life Esidimeni patients arrived at NGO’s without proper medical history | Inquest told

The inquest was established to determine if anyone should be held criminally liable for the deaths of the patients.

In concluding his evidence, Mkhatshwa said at the time the facility had a deficit of over R6 million.

“And that it is a satisfaction to note that the money that the Gauteng Department of Health paid to Life Esidimeni was actively utilized and there was no misuse of funds at Life Esidimeni. Nothing that I have seen so far shows that we failed the mental health care users that we were tasked to look after in terms of their care. Our primary goal was to ensure the mental care users get the care that we were tasked to look after,” said Mkhatshwa.

Re-examination of former Life Esidimeni Managing Director, Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa continues