At the start of the Life Esidimeni alternative dispute resolution (ADR), referred to as the arbitration process, the Gauteng government drew up and submitted a list of witnesses to the chairperson.
“The list submitted to retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke only included office bearers and employees. It is the chairpersons’s prerogative to call any other witnesses he deems fit,” said Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe.
Masebe was reacting to Sunday’s revelation by DA shadow minister of health in the province Jack Bloom that Mahlangu flew from South Africa to Heathrow International Airport in London on July 29.
“We understand that she is studying towards a PhD at the London School of Economics and Politics. This means that the arbitrator can now subpoena her after obtaining her address from the institution,” Bloom told The Citizen this morning.
Last week, Bloom accused the premier and other MECs in the province of shielding Mahlangu from accountability, as she serves with them in the provincial executive committee (PEC) of the ANC and should know where she is. Several witnesses, including departmental officials, have laid the blame on Mahlangu for cancelling the contract and directing patients to illegal NGOs.
“Of course, if or when there is anybody else who must appear, the retired deputy chief justice will decide. Our list contained names of the Premier [David Makhura], the MEC for health [Dr Gwendoline Ramokgopa] and the minister of health [Dr Aaron Motsoaledi],” Masebe said.
Masebe refused to be drawn into speculation on whether Mahlangu’s move abroad to study was carefully planned to coincide with the dates of the hearings.
A few months back, former MEC Brian Hlongwa told a Gauteng regional station that the best advice she could give Mahlangu was to live abroad until the whole matter has simmered down.
“I really don’t know what he [Hlongwa] meant. She [Mahlangu] handed her resignation, and the Premier accepted it. If you remember when the Premier received the report [from health ombudsman Prof Malegapuru Makgoba], he was asked a question about her, and he said if she didn’t resign, he would have fired her [from the provincial cabinet],” Masebe concluded.