Gauteng Premier David Makhura
Photo by: Duane Daws
Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has implicated Premier David Makhura in the decision to cancel the Life Esidimeni contract and send mental health patients to unsuitable NGOs, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Tuesday.
In her testimony at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing, Mahlangu said Makhura was part of the budget committee meeting which cut the Esidimeni contract as a cost-saving measure, DA MPL Jack Bloom said in a statement.
Mahlangu was in the hot seat on Monday after she was called to testify at the hearing.
She testified about a meeting with the premier and Nehawu in November 2015 concerning workers who would be retrenched because of the cancellation of the Life Esidimeni contract.
"The undertaking was given that they would be given jobs in the department or with the NGOs where they would be sent," Bloom said.
"Makhura has denied that he knew that patients were being sent to NGOs rather than other government facilities, but Mahlangu’s testimony shows that he knew early on about the whole scheme."
Bloom said he did not accept Mahlangu's "attempts to evade her personal responsibility by saying that it was a 'collective decision', but it rings true that the premier would have been involved in a number of ways".
Meanwhile, deputy director general for provincial communication services Thabo Masebe said there was nothing new in what Mahlangu testified.
"I was at the hearing yesterday [Monday] and there was nothing that contradicted the statement we made before. [The] premier said he was aware of the cancellation of the Life Esidimeni [contract] last year during [the] SOPA [State of the Province Address]."
Makhura said the health department informed him that they were moving mental health users to public hospitals because there was space to accommodate them, said Masebe.
"The premier will explain his knowledge of everything when he makes an appearance on the 31st of January," Masebe added.