Life Esidimeni: Warrant of arrest issued for truant former Gauteng health director
Dr Makgabo Manamela once again cited illness as a reason for her not being able to testify.
Dr Makgabo Manamela, who led the Life Esidimeni project, gives testifies during the arbitration process on November 27, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele)
A warrant of arrest has been issued for former Gauteng health director Dr Makgabo Manamela, after once again failing to appear at the ongoing Life Esidimeni inquest.
Makgabo’s no-show on Wednesday, again citing illness as a reason for her inability to testify, resulted in Judge Jowie Teffo issuing the warrant, held over until next week.
According to Makgabo’s medical certificate, she was unavailable to testify until 14 September, despite being subpoenaed to appear before the High Court in Pretoria.
Teffo said Makgabo handed in medical certificates just before being expected to testify on “several occasions”.
“The court can still authorise a warrant of arrest, even if the certificate has been handed in, because it is not conclusive proof that the witness is so ill, until evidence is heard, that will substantiate what is contained in the medical certificate,” Teffo said.
Makgabo’s lawyer, Advocate Russell Sibara, objected to the warrant, and argued that the court had already made a judgement on a warrant that had not been applied for.
Sibara requested that a formal application be filed before a decision is made.
He also said that a “private” and “confidential” issue was being interrogated on a public platform.
“Already the court has made a ruling that my client has a warrant of arrest authorised against her… She should not be singled out.”
Sibara said Makgabo could not testify on Tuesday because she was having “serious headaches” and experienced “difficulties in hearing”, which he said rendered her “indisposed”.
The inquest aims to determine if anyone can be held criminally liable for the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which cost at least 144 mental patients their lives in 2016.
This was the result of the termination of a contract between the Gauteng health department and the Life Esidimeni group in 2015, moving patients to non-governmental facilities.