Last week, proceedings at the High Court in Pretoria were adjourned for three consecutive days after the former Director for Gauteng Mental Health Services, Dr Mmakgabo Manamela, failed to appear. It remains unclear if she will come before the Life Esidimeni Inquest on Wednesday.
Manamela is supposed to give evidence in the High Court in Pretoria. She has failed to pitch, citing ill health and difficulties to upload evidence documents.
The court has since authorised a warrant of arrest for her.
The inquest seeks to determine if there are any individuals to be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients relocated from a Life Esidimeni facility in June 2016 to other NGOs, mostly unlicensed and not suitable to accommodate such patients.
On Tuesday, former Head of the Gauteng Health Department, Dr Barney Selebano told the inquest that what transpired in the Life Esidimeni tragedy was shameful.
Dr Selebano says, “Well, remember you must understand what was happening around that time. This was all over the media. So as a carrying department, you should feel sorry about that. You should feel sorry about that.”
Dr Mmakgabo Manamela fails to appear again to the inquest [ 7 September 2022]
Families of the deceased patients are hopeful the truth is about to come out, so that they could find closure. Christine Nxumalo relates how her sister Virginia died of alleged malnutrition while accommodated at one of the NGOs.
“We found food that was undigested in her system. She was so weak there was no way she could have chewed any. So my question why did they forcefully feed her? So this was done so that there should be some food in the system when the postmortem was done. It is painful how they responded.”
The inquest is probing whether there are individuals that could be criminally charged for the deaths of 144 mental ill patients.