Qedani Mahlangu continues her testimony in Life Esidimeni inquest

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu will continue to testify on Wednesday in the Life Esidimeni inquest into the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients in June 2016.

The inquest is being held virtually in the High Court in Pretoria.

Mahlangu was Health MEC between 2014 and 2017 when the patients died after being removed from the Life Esidimeni facilities to ill-equipped NGOs across the province to cut costs.

Mahlangu says the Gauteng Premier’s Budget Committee took the decision to terminate the Life Esidimeni contract with the knowledge and authority of senior Health Department officials.

She says the Esidimeni service level agreement violated the Constitution as it existed since 1979 without taking it out to tender as the law requires.

The project was also responding to the various negative audit findings by the Office of the Auditor General on the Life Esidimeni, the service level agreement.

Section 217 of the Constitution requires all organs of state to procure goods and services in a system that is fair, equitable, transparent and cost-effective.

In other words, the fact that Life Esidimeni enjoyed the benefits which did not comply with the provision of the Constitution, was in violation of the Constitution.

‘She should be honest about it’

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance Gauteng Shadow Health MEC Jack Bloom says the former health MEC should explain her implication in the Life Esidemeni tragedy.

Bloem says Mahlangu is pointing fingers at everyone else but herself.

“I hope there’s going to be proper cross-examination she seems to be trying to implicate everyone except herself but she was the MEC the buck stops with her and in fact, the evidence we heard staff and officials is that they were terrified of her, and that she was driving this. There wasn’t any specific pressure to cancel the contract but that initiative came from Qedani Mahlangu now she’s trying to blame everyone else. But the prime mover is Mahalngu and she should be honest about it.”