The Life Esidimeni inquest has been postponed second time this week “following concerns that newly appointed legal counsel for potentially implicated people in the inquest have not had adequate time to prepare”.
An inquest into the death of 144 patients who lost their lives between April 2016 and January 2017 due to neglect, dehydration and hunger began on Monday, five years after the tragedy first made headlines.
Life Esidimeni inquest postponed again
On Tuesday, NGOs and some government officials – including Dr Makgabo Manamela – secured legal representation during the adjournment, Section 27 reported.
Judge Mmonoa Teffo postponed proceedings until 2 August 2021, when advocate Shavhani Russel Sibara requested more time to familiarise himself with the proceedings.
Sibara said he received a call from the state attorney’s office “last night at 8.30pm, and only managed to communicate with my client throughout the better part of the night”.
“I don’t have access to the case line, and I don’t have the list of witnesses.”
Next court date
Teffo said it had become apparent during the inquest that some parties had not been properly represented, and allowed additional time for the matter to be rectified.
“Parties who have just obtained legal representation should be afforded the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the proceedings and consult with their legal representatives,” Teffo stated.
The hearing into the deaths of at least 144 mentally ill patients, after they were moved to dodgy NGOs by the Gauteng health department, began on Monday.
Inquest versus arbitration
As reported earlier, the inquest “is different to the Life Esidimeni arbitration process that was led by retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, which sought to determine what happened to the patients”.
The North Gauteng High Court will consider if anyone should be held criminally liable for the Life Esidimeni deaths, presided over by Teffo.
The accused will be held criminally accountable and face charges of culpable homicide, as well as assault with the intent to cause bodily harm and the contravention of the Mental Health Act.