The inquest into the deaths of 144 mentally-ill Life Esidimeni patients has been told that Gauteng Health officials occasionally deviated from the guidelines provided by the center, regarding the transfer of patients.

Former senior nurse Zanele Buthelezi testified that although 60% of the patients were not dischargeable, officials went ahead and removed them from the center.

Buthelezi says some of the patients were sickly but were directly sent to NGOs.

She observed and participated in the relocation of the patients from Life Esidimeni to other unregistered and ill-equipped facilities in June 2016.

The inquest is considering whether anyone can be held criminally liable for the deaths.

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu ultimately shut down Life Esidimeni.

Life Esidimeni Inquest into the death of 144 patients continues:

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, lobby group Section 27 which is representing the families of the deceased patients, welcomed the possible extension of the inquest.

Section 27 spokesperson Julia Chaskalson says, “Section 27 has noted that the inquest continuing until the end of the quarter which is the 17th of September 2021. But may resume again in early November. This is because there’s more 30 witnesses all of whom have legal representation who need to be available for the inquest to continue.”