State fails to have Esidimeni expert witnesses' testimony dismissed


Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown on October 10, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

JOHANNESBURG - Expert witnesses will continue testifying at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings.

On Monday, clinical psychologist Coralie Trotter was giving evidence about how the families were affected by the transfer of their loved ones to the NGOS, and the subsequent tragedy.

But, the state was quick to dismiss her testimony and those of other expert witnesses lined up by lobby group Section 27.

Lawyers for the Gauteng Health Department were arguing that Trotter wasn&39;t present when her team spoke to 11 of the 55 affected families.

"Consider her evidence as being inadmissible, on the basis of being hearsay, and therefore not continue to testify," argued state&39;s lawyer Advocate Tebogo Hutamo. 

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Justice Dikgang Moseneke dismissed the application to have Trotter&39;s evidence ruled inadmissible. She went on to be cross-examined by the state.

The state has also objected to SADAG&39;s Dr Casey Chambers and clinical psychiatrist Dr Mvuyiso Thalathala from testifying.

This is based on their prior involvement in litigation against the state in this very case.

"They cannot appear before these proceedings as the hired guns on behalf of section 27.

"Their independence is questionable, by virtue of association with the claimants in these proceedings," said Hutamo.

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In his testimony, Thalathala has described how he and other mental health experts opposed the proposal to transfer patients.

He said they even wrote a letter stating that the move would have unintended, negative and costly consequences for the state.

Thalathala also told the hearings he had raised concerns about the feasibility of the project.

"In the years that I worked at Sterkfontein, it was difficult to find an NGO to take our patients.

"I asked the question where are you going to find these NGOs, and I never really got an answer," Thalathala.

Thalathala will continue his testimony on Wednesday.