After much delay, former Gauteng health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu finally testified at the arbitration hearings chaired by Judge Dikgang Moseneke in Johannesburg on Monday.
She read out her statement in front of the family members of the deceased patients and asked for forgiveness but she still refused to take responsibility for her actions, and blames the workers for being negligent.
The number of patients who died from the negligence has increased to 143 mental health patients.
Some patients died from dehydration, some from hypothermia and some were allegedly raped, while more than 50 of the moved patients are still missing.Mahlangu said that she was never informed of any major problems.
She quit her job a day before the report on the tragedy was released, by the health ombudsman; to her this was taking responsibility.
In her resignation letter she stated how much she regrets the movement of patients to various NGOs (because it caused loss of lives).
The next morning, Health Ombudsman Malegupuru Makgoba identified Mahlangu as being one of the people who caused the tragedy and her resignation angered the family members of the deceased.
Most of the officials that testified at the arbitration said that mahlangu was the one that pushed for the patients to be transferred, despite what the consequences would have been.
Mahlangu says that if she had been given accurate information and facts at the time she would probably “not be sitting here,” she would have stopped the project and she believes that her resignation alone is enough to say sorry to the relatives of the patients who lost their lives.
By: Debbie Ncube