“I cannot carry personal blame, I was not working for my personal self,” said former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, pictured, during an arbitration hearing which took a personal tone yesterday.
“I carry the political blame simply because of the position I held.”
The arbitration into the deaths of 143 Life Esidimeni mental health patients took a bizarre turn yesterday with council repeatedly attempting to demonstrate Mahlangu was an incompetent, dishonest politician with a “blemished” past.
Tensions were high during the cross-examination by Lilla Crouse, a Legal Aid advocate. She pressed on with questions relating to Mahlangu’s attitude to the aftermath of her decision to push ahead, despite warnings, with the transfer of 1 700 patients from the private facility to government hospitals and NGO-run facilities throughout Gauteng.
She also put it to Mahlangu that she was callous in her dealing with the project from the start.
“Did you consult the World Health Organisation? Did you go on holiday to Dubai in January 2017? Did you stay long?” were some questions that led retired Justice Dikgang Moseneke to remind Crouse the point of the arbitration was to find appropriate redress and closure.
The conversation raised the ire of some families of victims who sporadically shouted “liar” as Mahlangu answered questions.
They exclaimed in shock after Mahlangu repeatedly insisted that, as stated in her resignation letter, she felt the health ombud had found no culpability on her part.