Former Health MEC must account for role in Life Esidimeni deaths, DG says

Johannesburg - The National Health department's director general Malebona Precious Matsoso has insisted that former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu account for her role in the deaths of at least 118 Life Esidemeni patients.

This as she detailed the shocking conditions she had discovered at the unlicensed NGOs where the patients were transferred - including that one had been a former horse stable.

"If you are accountable, we should be subjected to the full force of the law. Yes, she [Mahlangu] has to account. In my opinion, I think firstly she should be part of this process and secondly, she should be part of other legal processes as well."

ALSO READ: Life Esidimeni project head apologises to families

Initially Matsoso had said it would be difficult for her to respond to questions but when pushed by the hearings chair Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, she said Mahlangu needed to account for how the patients had come to be transferred to the NGOs.

On Monday when the alternative dispute arbitration hearings started, the parties representing the families who lost loved ones during the transfer of patients and those who were affected, expressed unhappiness about the absence of Mahlangu's name from the list of state witnesses.

As part of Matsoso's testimony, she revealed several unsettling details. She said in one instance, they came to learn of a mortuary where bodies were kept in an old butchery.

Matsoso said, however, that the owner of the premises insisted that it held no bodies of former Life Esidimeni patients.

She admitted to advocate Adila Hassim, who was appearing on behalf of Section27 which represents the families of the 55 patients who had passed away, that the facility did not have the correct facilities nor the resources to store human remains.

The hearings continue.

READ: 'We made mistakes' - Life Esidimeni project head