Life Esidimeni Inquest to continue on Wednesday

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Former Gauteng Health employee, Sophie Lenkwane, will continue with her testimony on Wednesday at the Life Esidimeni Inquest. She has been cross-examined by lawyers representing families of some of the victims.

Lenkwane, who has a PhD in mental health, was part of the team which oversaw the transfer of patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to NGOs. 144 mentally-ill patients died following the move and the inquest is to determine if anyone can be held criminally liable for their deaths.

It’s been a lengthy day of cross-examination by lawyers who have been asking the former Gauteng Health employee various questions about what could have led to the tragedy.

Judge Mmonoa Teffo had to intervene during some of the cross-examinations.

“Cross examine only particular aspects. How do I know that the evidence that is going to come up out there that is going to be relevant to the proceedings or not. You are telling us about a DC. How does this affect your clients who were not even part of those who were moved from Life Esidimeni,” Judge Teffo asked.

The patients died after they were moved to ill-equipped and unregistered facilities in June 2016.

Legal Aid South Africa’s Tlou Phihlela questioned Lenkwane’s authority when the decision to move the patients was taken.

“My lady, as I’ve indicated, the issue of the appointment of Dr Lenkwane as a delegate on the project is important because it reflects the type of authority that she exercised over the whole project. Her legitimacy to form part of this project is in question,” Phihlela said.

Further questioning revealed that Lenkwana was unaware of the status of some of the NGOs.

“I did not recall seeing any license but I was told that all the NGO’s that we are placing they got licenses,” she said.

The cross-examination will continue on Wednesday.