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JOHANNESBURG – Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi took to the stand in the Esidimeni arbitration hearings on Wednesday evening.
Motsoaledi testified that he has been racking his brain to figure out why the Esidimeni project was handled the way it was, and can't find the answer.
He said he believed the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) should investigate aspects fo the tragedy, such as unlicensed NGOs still being paid even after patients died.
According to the Minister, a number of people working for the Gauteng Department of Health should be charged criminally.
Earlier, Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa appeared before the hearings in Johannesburg.
#LifeEsidimeni "And we reminded them they are a quasi-judicial structure," says Ramokgopa of the Mental Health Review Board @GautengHealth, adding they are charged with the responsibility of care for mental health users.— Erin Bates (@ermbates) January 31, 2018
On Wednesday afternoon, retired Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke wanted an answer on at least additional 12 additional deceased mental health care patients.
This after submissions from Advocate Nikki Stein of Section27 representing 50 affected families.
Steyn cited an affidavit but the lawyer for Gauteng’s Health Department has highlighted the need to verify this number.
"We are talking, really, about lives, families and additional pain," Moseneke said.
MT: #LifeEsidimeni Moseneke wants an answer today on an *additional* 12 deceased mental health care patients, over and above the known 144 deceased. "We are talking, really, about lives, families and additional pain," says Moseneke.— Erin Bates (@ermbates) January 31, 2018
#LifeEsidimeni Proceedings have just resumed, with news on the list of the additional deceased. "There is indeed a need for the names on this list to be verified," says Tebogo Hutamo for the State, adding all parties are agreed, and the ombudsman will execute the verification.— Erin Bates (@ermbates) January 31, 2018
Moseneke is furious that the names and numbers of dead not worked out- as the Esidimeni hearings come to an end. https://t.co/ErEHump2b7— Katharine Child (@katjanechild) January 31, 2018
Gauteng Premier David Makhura continued his testimony on Wednesday, addressing the hearings on the deaths of over 140 mentally ill patients.
Makhura said he was never told about the transfer of patients to NGOs. He says individuals must take personal responsibility for patient deaths.
Makhura concluded his testimony with a tearful apology.
Earlier, Gauteng’s former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu said it was a collective decision to close Life Esidimeni homes.
Gauteng MEC of Finance Barbara Creecy had testified that that over R47-million was paid to NGOs to take care of mentally ill patients.
Mahlangu said the fatal project was a cost-cutting exercise.