The woman behind the Life Esidimeni project‚ Dr Makgoba Manamela‚ has finally taken the witness stand to explain her side of story.
Witnesses testified throughout the Esidimeni arbitration hearings that Manamela was the person who led the fatal move from Esidimeni homes into NGOs‚ in which 143 mentally ill people died.
As families waited for answers‚ lawyer Lerato Mashilane spent the morning trying to delay Manamela’s time on the witness stand.
He asked for a postponement‚ because Manamela allegedly needed documents and time to prepare.
Just before 1pm‚ Judge Dikgang Moseneke dismissed Manamela’s appeal to postpone her testimony. “It is baseless‚ both on the facts it relies on‚ and on the law. Consequently it is dismissed forthwith.”
Moseneke said he had exercised “extreme patience” listening to Manamela’s attorney asking for a postponement. He ordered that she stand up and approach the witness stand.
Manamela has a doctorate in psychiatric nursing. She is currently on suspension from the Gauteng Department of Health.
She reportedly signed death certificates of NGO patients‚ forced patients into NGOs even when their owners of those NGOs said they couldn’t manage‚ and allegedly knew that a colleague profited from transporting dead Esidimeni patients’ bodies.
She is also accused of having signed illegal NGO licenses‚ thereby allowing ill-equipped NGOs to take very sick patients.