Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
30 Aug 2021
9:31 am

WATCH: Life Esidimeni Inquest resumes at Pretoria High Court

Cheryl Kahla

The Life Esidimeni Inquest will be heard by the Pretoria High Court today.

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Corruption Watch activists march to the Gauteng legislature protesting against the re-election of Qedani Mahlangu and Brian Hlongwa into the ANC provincial committee in 2018.. Photo: Gallo Images/Sowetan/Sandile Ndlovu

The Life Esidimeni inquest continues at the Pretoria High Court today after it was postponed earlier in August to give legal representatives time to consult with their clients.

Life Esidimeni Inquest continues

The inquiry has to determine whether any party should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 psychiatric patients, which occurred between April 2016 and January 2017.

Many of the patients died from pneumonia, dehydration and diarrhoea, after the patients were transferred from private hospitals to under-resourced facilities in an attempt to cut costs.

WATCH: Life Esidimeni inquest

Earlier this year, the court also heard from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) and the former managing director at Life Esidimeni.

At the time, Judge Mmonoa Teffo said it had become apparent that some parties had not been properly represented, and allowed additional time for the matter to be rectified.

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.

No remorse from officials

Speaking on 702 back in July, the executive director of Section 27 Umunyana Rugege reminded listeners about the context of the case, and said “there was no remorse from governmental officials”.

Officials deflected and refused to take individual responsibility for the Life Esidimeni tragedy, with Dr Barney Selebalo saying on Monday: “It’s highly, highly regrettable […], we walked away from these warnings.”

“It’s painful, it’s regrettable”.

NOW READ: Life Esidimeni inquest shows why ‘mental health must be taken seriously’