The conclusion of the Life Esidimeni inquest, which has been probing the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients in 2016, will witness the presentation of closing arguments from legal representatives today in the High Court in Pretoria.
The saga unfolded as a result of the relocation of patients from the Life Esidimeni facility to unlicenced and ill-equipped non-governmental organisations (NGOs), leading to cases of starvation, dehydration and neglect, ultimately culminating in the tragic loss of innocent lives.
The inquest aims to determine whether any individuals should be held criminally liable for their alleged roles in the series of events that led to the loss of vulnerable patients.
Life Esidimeni Inquest I Lawyers for the former director claim she is being used as a scapegoat
In yesterday’s session, the defence teams for the workers at the implicated non-governmental organisations, including Precious Angels, sought to deflect blame and shield their clients from responsibility.
Advocate Tlou Phihlela, representing the workers, emphasised that the evidence presented before the court should not solely implicate his clients in the tragedy, attempting to minimise the culpability of Precious Angels’ owner, Ethel Ncube.
The legal representatives for the former Head of Gauteng Mental Health Services, Dr. Mmakgabo Manamela, vehemently argued against holding their client accountable for her alleged involvement in the events at Life Esidimeni.
Advocate Russell Sibara delivered impassioned closing arguments, attempting to mitigate the charges against Dr. Manamela.
Meanwhile, the non-governmental organisation Section 27 has maintained its call for accountability, pushing for the prosecution of Dr. Manamela, former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, and Ethel Ncube, the owner of Precious Angels. Section 27 is seeking charges of culpable homicide against the individuals involved, advocating for justice for the victims and their families.
DISCUSSION: Life Esidimeni tragedy and the way forward