The presiding judge in the Life Esidimeni Inquest, Monoa Teffo, has ruled that it remains the duty of the court to steer the proceedings in the right direction. The judge argued counsel is empowered by law to pose questions to the witness while at the same time the judge may intervene when necessary.
The ruling follows the submission by the legal representative of former Gauteng Head of Health Department Dr. Makgabo Manamela.
Her counsel questioned the judge’s intervention in the proceedings during the cross-examination of a witness. They argued that it is not fair to their client.
Judge Teffo made the following ruling on the matter.
“When answering to the submission made by Dr. Manamela’s team, the court notes the following. If counsel who is allowed to cross-examine raises questions, which will not take the matter any further, the court is entitled to stop that line of questioning by reason that it is irrelevant. In fact, the court doesn’t prefer interjecting cross-examination by any counsel, only when it is clear to this court that the question or questions are irrelevant, then the court will step in.”
The Life Esidimeni Inquest was established to determine if anyone should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 mentally-ill patients in 2016.
Re-application of NGO licences to accommodate patients
On Monday Former Deputy Director-General for Mental Health Services in Gauteng, Hannah Jacobus, testified that selected Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and new ones were not ready to accommodate patients and had to re-apply for their licences.
Jacobus was responsible for overseeing NGO operations during the transfer of patients from Life Esidimeni facilities. 144 died of hunger and dehydration after they were transferred to unregistered NGOs.
Jacobus told the inquest during cross-examination that there was no clear date set for the termination of the Life Esidimeni project, hence they could not prepare NGOs to accommodate the patients.
“So we did not receive any formal application at that stage. As I’m saying there was no given time frame for Life Esidimeni closure. We’ve done a lot of informal visits, a lot of them throughout the whole of Gauteng. It was only after December when Dr. Manamela asked me to write a report about the status of the hospitals and NGOs.”
According to Jacobus there was no sufficient time to conduct training for qualifying NGOs.
“And there was no time to do the formal visits. Dr. Manamela’s instruction was that she needs a report from the hospitals and NGOs. Then I went to the engineers to accompany me. Licenses were done on the last visit of the NGOs as per Dr. Manamela’s directive. That was according to the numbers that were given and were approved to receive the patients based on the numbers that were given.”