The Life Esidimeni inquest will resume in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday morning. A former nurse, Zanele Buthelezi, is expected to conclude her testimony.
The Gauteng Health Department’s former HOD Dr Mmakgabo Manamela was a regular visitor at Life Esidimeni during the transfer period of mentally challenged patients in 2016, the former nurse at the center told the inquest into the death of the 144 patients.
Buthelezi testified that Manamela was on some occasions assisted with escorts as she left the center with a group of patients. She said they transferred to other NGOs as per the order of former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.
“We were assisting Dr Manamela with an escort. She didn’t have an escort to fetch the mental users herself to take them to an NGO. Dr Manamela visited us regularly during the transfer because she was part of it. She came and fetched the patient. But not with her transport. It was transport from an NGO. We assisted her with an escort,” said Buthelezi.
Life Esidimeni patients arrived at NGO’s without proper medical history: Inquest is told
On Monday the court heard that some families of the 144 Life Esidimeni patients who died after being transferred to unregistered NGOs had convened a meeting in which a forum was formed to question the 2016 transfer of their relatives.
Buthelezi says this was after the Gauteng Health Department ordered their transfer and subsequent closure of the centre.
The Health Ombudsman’s probe found that most of them later died of hunger and neglect.