5 September 2022, Johannesburg – Senior officials from the Gauteng Department of Health (GDOH) who were implicated in transferring mental healthcare patients out of Life Esidimeni into unprepared and unlicensed NGOs in 2016 are scheduled to testify at the Inquest from today, 5 September 2022.

Dr Makgabo Manamela, who was the head of the Mental Health Directorate at GDOH during the transfer of mental healthcare patients, is scheduled to give evidence before Judge Mmonoa Teffo at the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division, Pretoria) from 5 to 22 September 2022. She has applied for a postponement of her evidence until 12 September 2022, which application should be heard today. Dr Barney Selebano, who was the Head of Department of GDOH at the time of the transfer, and former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, are expected to give evidence during October and November. The last three witnesses to testify are the most senior government actors involved in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which saw 141 mental healthcare users dying in conditions of neglect and suffering during 2016 and 2017.

Approximately 2,000 mental healthcare users were hurriedly moved from Life Esidimeni facilities into NGOs in 2016 after the GDOH terminated their contract with Life Esidimeni. The GDOH rushed the process of transferring patients and did not adequately capacitate receiving NGOs, resulting in the deaths of at least 141 mental healthcare users.

For more information contact: Patience Phiri (phiri@section27.org.za 072 992 83830)