A doctor who has been implicated in the botched relocation of Life Esidimeni patients to unlicensed NGOs failed to show up at arbitration hearings on Tuesday morning, claiming she was too sick to testify.
Director of mental health Dr Makgabo Manamela was implicated after the Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba released a report in February on the more than 140 patients who died as a result of the disastrous transfers.
“My client is actually not feeling well today and what I have got is that yesterday she thought that maybe she might have been tired and it will be better by this morning. She had prepared to come here but things got worse,” said Manamela’s legal represantative, Lerato Mashilane.
Mashilane requested that the matter be stood down until Manamela’s doctor’s consultation report is available.
“She has gone to the doctor, maybe by 11:30, she will be done, and then I will advise what the doctor recommended.”
Retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke asked other legal representatives to comment on the new developments. The legal representatives were unimpressed and questioned why Manamela hadn’t gone to the doctor last night or early in the morning.
Dirk Groenewald, who is representing the families, told the dispute resolution committee that Manamela’s conduct was unbecoming and she has shown disrespect to the hearings.
“We take issue in the manner in which Dr Manamela treats these arbitration proceedings. Yesterday, we were faced with an application for a postponement at the time when the matter was supposed to proceed. Once again today, it’s 9:30, she’s now only at the doctors.”
Moseneke told the committee that he’s not questioning Manamela’s state of health, but was concerned about an absent witness and how to manage the proceedings.
State lawyer Tebogo Hutamo said Manamela was compelled to attend the proceedings until she is excused by the arbitration.
“In this instance, we have been given an explanation on the absence and which has been accepted. She’s consulting with a doctor who will then give us an indication of her availability.”
On Monday, Moseneke denied an application by Manamela seeking a postponement.
Her legal representative said she wasn’t ready to testify and wanted to be furnished with documents that she would use to prepare herself before testifying.
The matter was adjourned to wait for the report on Manamela’s health.
– African News Agency (ANA)