Long after the death of the 118 Life Esidimeni Patients, the project head Levy Mosenogi has come to admit that the government and Gauteng health department were to be blamed for the tragedy.
Mosenogi, who is the Director of Planning, Policy and Research at the Gauteng Health Department, was called to testify arbitration hearing in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Considering his direct involvement in the death of the 118 Life Esidimeni Patients, Mosenogi, had to answer questions relating the death of the patients after the state’s counsel indicated that former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu would not be appearing.
Counsel representing the families was only briefed about the plans to call Mosenogi to testify during the morning tea break on Tuesday.
While he had challenges in answering some of the questions posed to him by the counsel representing the families, Mosenogi admitted that the tragedy should never have happened.
“As a department, I must say we made mistakes. It should not have happened as it happened” Mosenogi told the hearing on Tuesday adding that he had warned the department about the move, but that the department went on to transfer the patients to various NGOs some of which were not licensed.
“The challenges were always pointed out,” he said. I don’t know if it was deliberate, but I was kept out of the picture,” Mosenogi said.
When asked to name those who pressured him on the project that led to the death of the 118 Life Esidimeni Patients, Mosenogi said:
“The executive, Dr Selebano and Ms Qedani Mahlangu.”
He then admitted that he could not explain why the moves were rushed but that as a person and project manager, he had no excuse.
He was cross-examined by the retired deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke who said Mosenogi’s answers suggest that the process was rushed.
“I have an answer. It was all irrational, it was rushed and not necessary. It was not urgent but we did it.”
Moseneke questioned Mosenogi about the time frames before the patients were moved and in response, he said: “[The time frames] were given by the leadership of the department.”
Mosenogi is set to continue with his testimony on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, hours before Mosenogi’s court appearance, Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba insisted that the lives of the 118 Life Esidimeni Patients could have been saved if the Gauteng health officials were not ” being economical with the truth”
He was responding to Advocate Dirk Groenewald’s questions about the department’s promise to concerned families that they would be able to take care of their relatives
Groenewald was acting on behalf of trade union Solidarity, which is representing three families who lost loved ones who died after being transferred to the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre.
Groenewald went on to ask why the health department has failed to fulfil its promises to the family. He was asking Makgoba whether the department had lied to the families. “I don’t know if they lied or if they were incompetent,” he said.