Former MEC for health Qedani Mahlangu
Former MEC for health Qedani Mahlangu has dismissed reports suggesting that she refused to appear before the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing.
"I note with concern that several media reports which are regularly surfacing in the country about me, are false and without basis in fact," Mahlangu said in a statement released on Friday.
She said in line with her conscience, she had made it clear to the relevant authorities that she was available to appear before the hearings into the deaths of more that 140 patients.
"As such, I need no subpoena."
Mahlangu was the MEC when the department decided to end a contract with Life Esidimeni and move mentally ill patients to a number of unlicensed NGOs.
It was announced on Friday that it was now 143 mental health patients that had died during the transfer.
Mahlangu, along with the suspended director of the mental health review board, Dr Makgabo Manamela, and the suspended head of department Dr Tiego Selebano, have been identified as three of the main culprits behind the transfer of mental health patients.
On Friday, her legal representatives told the Life Esidimeni hearings that she would be willing to testify in January 2018.
Mahlangu would only be available to testify when she is expected to finish a module for her masters of business administration at the Global Banking School in Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom, her representatives said.
However, it was previously confirmed to News24 that Mahlangu was suspended because of the seriousness of the Life Esidimeni allegations.
Mahlangu, who is available to testify between January 22 and 26, lashed out at the media over inaccurate reports about her.
"Anyone who knows how universities work, know that planning and applying for study, happens long before one can travel to the institution concerned, and therefore the suggestion that I used my studies to escape accountability is also false.
She said these reports sought to suggest she is not committed to principles of accountability, transparency and openness.
"As such, the reports are written in such a way that as a supposed 'fugitive' of sorts, I must be subjected to an arbitration of public opinion, ahead of the formal Arbitration Process. Nobody else has been subjected to this kind of treatment."
She said she reserved her rights to comment on the "falsehoods" around her studies.