News / South Africa

Gosebo Mathope
2 minute read
18 Jan 2018
3:46 pm

Mahlangu knew we were breaking the law, says Gauteng health NGO coordinator

Gosebo Mathope

Jacobus told the hearings that it was unnecessary to have reported the deficiencies to the MEC, as she had also attended their meetings.

Former Gauteng Health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, who resigned when it emerged she lied to both Gauteng Premier and Health Minister abou the gravity of Life Esidimeni tragedy. Source: Gauteng Legislature

Hannah Jacobus, the deputy director responsible for nonprofit organisations in the mental health unit of the Gauteng health department, this afternoon told Life Esidimeni hearings that then health MEC Qedani Mahlangu knew they were breaking the law.

Under cross-examination from the Section 27 legal counsel Adv Adila Hassim, Jacobus conceded that the NGOs were given licences before they could even open bank accounts.

Asked whether this was not unlawful conduct that should have been reported to her seniors and the police, Jacobus said they informed the project leader, Dr Manamela, but failed to escalate the matter to the head of department.

Hassim referred Jacobus to a document outlining requirements to be met by NGOs before they could be licensed, and asked if she was aware that the entire marathon health project was being unlawfully rolled out.

Jacobus, who preferred long-winded answers to simple yes or no questions, drew the ire of chairperson Dikgang Moseneke, who interjected several times and instructed her to give brief answers and stop wasting everybody’s time.

Jacobus then admitted Mahlangu herself was present in the meetings where contraventions to the Mental Health act and departmental policies were broken, as “she was present in the meeting that took place after licensing”.

Jacobus also told the hearings that Dr Manamela had told her the marathon project was “unusual” and financial regulations had to be waivered. Asked why she thought Manamela said this, Jacobus continuously said: “I don’t know.”

Jacobus had earlier told the meeting that she conveyed her concerns to Dr Manamela, who in turn insisted that the project should go ahead despite numerous red flags that the NGOs were faced with inadequacies and couldn’t cope.

“Dr Manamela said we must go to Cullinan and we got there she said we are moving beds around as patients will be transferred two NGOs in that area. I told her that the manager of the NGO is not there and that it was a Saturday.”

She also told the hearing at some point Dr Manamela introduced them to a linen provider and said the NGOs would pay for his services. She said due to nonpayment, the service provider subsequently had his house repossessed.