JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng deputy mental health director Hannah Jacobus says due process wasn't followed when issuing licences to NGOs that would take in Life Esidimeni patients.
Jacobus was in charge of drawing up the licences but claims her boss, Dr Makgabo Manamela, pressured her when she raised red flags about the institutions.
One-hundred-and-forty-three psychiatric patients died in 2016 after being moved to ill-equipped and unlicensed NGOs by the Gauteng Health Department.
Manamela resigned on Wednesday.
Last year, Manamela admitted she made errors when issuing some licences to the non-governmental organisations.
Former Gauteng Health Department head Barney Selebano last month apologised for his role in the Esidimeni tragedy and has resigned from his post, also in the last past days.
Testifying at the Esidimini arbitration hearing on Thursday, Jacobus said: “During the period of compiling these licences we received an instruction from Dr Manamela that it was unusual circumstances and that normal processes couldn't be followed due to the imminent closure of Life Esidimeni.
"When I also alluded to Dr Manamela that we cannot do this because we have to follow the other processes in line with the legal procedures. And then again Dr Manamela said it was unusual circumstances and there are time frames for the closure of Life Esidimeni. Usually what would happen is we would formulate the whole process before we could start compiling licences. So that process was also not followed.”
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who is chairing the Esidimeni hearings, said Jacobus seemed determined to break the law.
He said she should not have participated in an illegal process.
Jacobus failed to explain the criteria used in deciding which NGOs would receive Life Esidimeni patients.