Life Esidimeni: Manamela threatened with arrest after no-show

Family members protest to express their frustration at what they call 'delaying tactics'

Life Esidimeni: Manamela threatened with arrest after no-show

21 November 2017

Johannesburg – A warrant of arrest will be issued and executed against suspended Gauteng director of mental health Makgabo Manamela should she not appear on Thursday before the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing.

This comes after Manamela called in sick on what was supposed to be her second day testifying on the hasty transfer - resulting in more than 140 deaths - of mentally ill patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to various NGOs across Gauteng as part of a cost-cutting exercise within the Gauteng health department.

The order was made by Justice Dikgang Moseneke who is presiding over the hearing.

Manamela's legal counsel, Advocate Lerato Mashilane, said in Parktown, Johannesburg, on Tuesday that his client had advised him that she had not been feeling well since Monday, and thought she would feel better on Tuesday.

He said she would go and visit a doctor.

Mashilane requested that the arbitration stand down in order to get the opinion of the doctor.

"The doctor has advised that she (Manamela) can appear again on Thursday," said Mashilane, adding that Manamela would provide a medical certificate to Moseneke by the end of business on Tuesday.

Manamela was due to give testimony for her role in the deaths of the patients.

'No respect for proceedings'

A report by the Health Ombudsman found that Manamela had no basis for issuing licences to the non-compliant NGOs.

Advocate Dirk Groenewald, for Solidarity, objected to Manamela's absence, saying that Manamela was not treating the proceedings with respect.

"There's no explanation as to why she didn't go to the doctor yesterday or this morning," Groenewald said.

Family members in the crowd agreed, saying in Zulu: "Batshele! (Tell them!)".

In response to a question by Moseneke on the validity of the subpoena, State Advocate Tebogo Hutamo said it was still valid, even if Manamela's absence was due to alleged ill health.

Mashilane called the negative criticism of his client unfair.

Family members broke into song and protested outside the venue to express their frustration at what they called "delaying tactics" by Manamela.

On Monday, Manamela stalled the proceedings for three hours as she asked for a four-week postponement to allow her time to go through documents. The application was dismissed by Moseneke who said that it had no basis in law or fact.

The hearing continues.