The High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday revoked a warrant issued last week against former Gauteng mental health director Dr Mmakgabo Manamela after she failed to appear to testify at the Life Esidimeni inquiry.

It remains unclear whether Dr Manamela will finally take the witness stand at the Life Esidimeni inquiry on Thursday morning.

Dr. Manamela cited ill health and difficulties in uploading supporting documents as the reasons for her absence.

The investigation aims to determine whether anyone can be prosecuted for the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients who were transferred from Life Esidimeni in June 2016 to other non-governmental organizations – mostly unlicensed and unfit to house such patients.

Dr. Mmakgaba Manamela does not appear again at the inquest [ 7 September 2022]

Former Gauteng Health Department chief executive Dr Barney Selebano told the inquest that what happened in the Life Esidimeni tragedy was disgraceful.

“Well, remember, you have to understand what was going on at the time. It was all over the media. So, as a shipping department, you should regret it. You should regret it,” says Dr. Celebano.

The legal representative of the families of the 44 deceased patients, Nasreen Rajab-Budlender, told Celebano that the department ignored the concerns of stakeholders not to move patients from Life Esidimeni facilities.

“And the reason they were very concerned and asked for a meeting to review the plan to reduce the beds at Life Esidimeni, and most importantly in this letter, the main reason is that the community mental health services that the NGOs were not ready to accept So would you agree with me that their concern was justice? Yes, it was justified. Do you agree? Yes, they were justified in expressing their concerns to the department, says Rajab-Budlender.

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