Makgabo Manamela. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/THE TIMES
Makgabo Manamela. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/THE TIMES

Yet another senior Gauteng health department official implicated in the Life Esidimeni tragedy has resigned.

The department’s head of mental health, Dr Makgabo Manamela, who was described as evasive and arrogant during her testimony at the independent ad hoc tribunal chaired by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, resigned on Wednesday. Her resignation came in the wake of that of head of the department Dr Barney Selebano on Tuesday.

The two were part of the management team that decided to relocate hundreds of mentally ill patients from Esidimeni to unregistered nongovernmental organisations, where they were subjected to inhumane conditions that could ultimately have led to their deaths.

In November, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said Manamela should be reported to the South African Nursing Council for ethical misconduct over her role in the tragedy.

The families of the 143 patients who died have called for criminal charges to be brought against all officials, including the health MEC at the time. Despite their resignations, Manamela and Selebano would still have to face the music should the inquiry find them guilty of any wrongdoing upon its conclusion.

When they appeared at the hearings, the two blamed former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu for the events that led to the deaths.

They said Mahlangu ignored warnings that the relocations could lead to dire consequences for the patients. They claimed the motivation for moving the patients was to cut costs and that they were following Mahlangu’s orders.

Mahlangu is on a list of high-profile individuals due to appear before the Esidimeni arbitration process from Monday. Proceedings were scheduled to resume on Friday.

Mahlangu will have to answer hard questions after numerous unsavoury allegations were made against her by provincial health officials who appeared at the hearings
in 2017.

Other prominent figures expected to appear at the inquiry are Motsoaledi, Gauteng  Premier David Makhura and current Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa.

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