Former health boss Hannah Jacobus to continue testimony at Life Esidimeni Inquest

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The former Deputy Director-General for Mental Health Services in Gauteng, Hannah Jacobus, will continue to testify before the Life Esidimeni Inquest in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday morning.

Jacobus was responsible for overseeing NGO operations during the transfer of patients from Life Esidimeni facilities. 144 died of hunger and dehydration after they were transferred to unregistered NGOs.

On Monday, she denied any knowledge of patients who died during their transfer from the Life Esidimeni to unlicensed facilities in 2016.

This after former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu ordered the closure of the facility and that patients be moved to other NGOs.

Jacobus was being cross-examined by Advocate Russell Sibara, the legal representative of former Head of the Gauteng Health Department, Dr Makgabo Manamela.

Adv Sibara: “It would be assumed that a number of NGOs in the Tshwane District received patients is that true?”

Ms Jacobus: “Yes, according to the reports.”

Adv Sibara: “Do you know if patients died at CCRCs?”

Ms Jacobus: “I don’t know I’m not dealing with CCRCs.”

Adv Sibara: “The question is did you know if any patients died?”

Ms Jacobus: “I don’t know sir I don’t have any knowledge.”

No clear date set for termination 

Jacobus also said there was no clear date set for the termination of the Life Esidimeni project, hence they could not prepare NGOs to accommodate the patients.

“So we did not receive any formal application at that stage. As I’m saying there was no given time frame for Life Esidimeni closure. We’ve done a lot of informal visits, a lot of them throughout the whole of Gauteng. It was only after December when Dr. Manamela asked me to write a report about the status of the hospitals and NGOs.”

According to Jacobus, there wasn’t sufficient time to conduct training for qualifying NGOs.

During one of her cross-examinations last month, Jacobus was grilled on staffing shortages, physical environments and non-compliance issues that posed a risk to the mental health care users.

In the report below, SABC News Senior Reporter Chriselda Lewis provides more details: