Family members of the victims of the Life Esidimeni tragedy staged a walk out when former Gauteng Health MEC started to apologise during her closing remarks at the arbitration hearings in Johannesburg.
She had earlier refused to carry the blame for the deaths of the more than 140 mentally-ill patients and the suffering of those who survived. This when the family lawyer cross-examining her emphasised, “I put it to you that you are directly responsible for the deaths and suffering…” to which Mahlangu responded, “I am not directly to blame.”
Qedani Mahlangu concluded her testimony on Thursday after being cross-examined for three days.
Mahlangu says while she takes political responsibility, she is not directly to blame for the loss of 143 lives. She has blamed senior departmental officials for the manner in which the relocation of patients from Esidimeni facilities to ill-equipped Non-Governmental Organisations was conducted.
“We have let down the most vulnerable in our society, and for that I apologise, myself and the team that I led. I hope the colleagues, every politician going forward will look at doing things differently.”
Mahlangu has been fingered by several key witnesses as the one who instructed the move from Life Esidimeni, but she is sticking to her guns.
Families were still hoping for the truth, but the woman whom they blame for the death of their loved ones is still not budging.
She also came under fire for going on the campaign trail for her political party while her patients died of hunger and starvation at ill-equipped NGO’s and was further grilled on why she did not heed the pleas by the families.
Mahlangu frequently raised objections to the line of questioning by family lawyers, even accusing them of putting her character on trial.
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