“I APOLOGISE for what happened and trust the families will try and find closure”, so said former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Dorothy Mahlangu.
Mahlangu, walked into the room full of deceased family members and press corps at the Life Esidimeni Hearings held in Parktown, Johannebsurg on Monday.
‘Siyenzenina’ –what we did we do to deserve this- song filled the room as she walked in-tow with ‘bodyguards’ and legal team.
Mahlangu was being cross-examined by both retired deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke –as an arbitrator and families legal counsels to find out why the tragedy‚ which led to 143 deaths‚ took place.
Health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba investigated the Esidimeni saga‚ releasing his report on February 2017. He found the former MEC was one of the three decision makers pursuing “a flawed and an irrational decision” to close the Life Esidimeni homes down.
He accused Mahlangu of “poor planning‚ hurried and chaotic execution‚ poor oversight‚ a refusal to listen and take advice and warnings from professional experts and …organisations”.
Asked if she knew of a possible contract termination of Life Esidimeni, Mahlangu who seem composed but irrational at times said the decision was a collective one and Premier David Makhura knew as well.
“As a Government official then, one could not take such a major decision alone, it would have amounted to undermining the law and resulted in me being jailed,” she said.
On the Ombudsman findings that she was found “negligent” and brought pain and anguish to the nation, Mahlangu disputed that since she was not given daily reports by her team.
She also blamed both resigned Dr Makgabo Manamela and Dr Barney Selebano for having misled her.
“As professionals I expected of them to give detailed reports without withholding any information,” she responded to Judge Moseneke question.
Meanwhile, outside the hearings a group of protesters called for Mahlangu’s head and said her hands are dripping with blood.
The hearing continues on Wednesday with Mahlangu taking the stand.