EFFORTS by the former director of the Gauteng health department’s mental health services Dr Makgabo Manamela to avoid testifying before the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing proved fruitless yesterday after her application to have the proceedings postponed fell flat.
Manamela’s lawyer Lerato Mashilane argued in vain that Manamela could not testify as her testimony could be used against her in her disciplinary hearing by the Gauteng department of health and that she could possibly face criminal charges resulting from her testimony.
Justice Dikgang Moseneke dismissed her application saying it made no sense and had no basis in law. Moseneke grew frustrated saying there was nothing stopping Manamela from testifying before the tribunal.
“She can tell the truth here and go and tell the truth at the disciplinary hearing,” Mosenke said.
Mashilane further argued that Manamela had to be furnished with documents before Moseneke before she could testify.
“Where have you had a witness say to a court give me all the evidence before I can testify. When did you start practising?” Moseneke asked Mashilane.
Lawyers for Section 27, Solidarity and Legal Aid South Africa strongly opposed Manamela’s application arguing that she was given ample time to prepare.
Under cross-examination, Manamela demanded to be given time to explain what went down during the project before she could be examined.
She told Moseneke that all NGOs were assessed before patients were placed arguing that all the affected NGOs were licensed excluding Siyabadinga.
This despite the findings of health ombudsman Prof Malegapuru Makgoba that all 27 NGOs where patients were placed were unlicensed.
Moseneke has asked for the assessment reports, which Manamela said were filed.
Manamela also denied that the NGOs were forced to take more patients than originally agreed upon. When pressed for answers as to why the patients were transported without making proper arrangements with NGOs, Manamela said she had tried to intervene.
Manamela said her department had written to the finance section asking that the NGOs be paid upfront but they never got a response.
She said the NGOs were called into a meeting to arrange for food and clothing while payment was still being sorted out.
“The arrangement was that they were going to be paid after a month,” Manamela said.
Manamela proved to be “elusive” raising Moseneke’s ire as he demanded to know why patients were sent to unsuitable NGOs without food or clothing. Her testimony continues today.