/ 24 July 2018

​READ: #LifeEsidimeni families shocked and outraged at the re-election of Mahlangu

A total of 94 mentally ill patients died between 23 March 2016 and 19 December 2016 in Gauteng province
Former Health MEC ?Qedani Mahlangu's election into the Provincial Executive Committee has been called out for dishonouring the memories of those who have passed in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo)

The Life Esidimeni Family Committee representing the families of mental health care users affected by the Life Esidimeni tragedy is shocked and enraged at the confirmation of the re-election by the African National Congress of the former Member of the Executive Council (MEC) of Health Qedani Mahlangu into the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) in Gauteng.

Qedani Mahlangu is found to have been responsible for the Life Esidimeni tragedy, in which over 140 of the most vulnerable members of our society died. It is unacceptable that in light of the overwhelming evidence concerning Mahlangu’s integrity and fitness to hold office that she has been re-elected.

Newly re-elected Chairperson and Premier of Gauteng David Makhura explained that Mahlangu’s case has been submitted to the ANC’s integrity committee, but instead of hauling her before this Committee ahead of the Provincial Elective Conference, they now want to use that excuse in an attempt to deceive the general public. Had the ANC shown serious intent to do the right thing, this process would have taken place immediately following the Life Esidimeni Arbitration Hearings which were headed by Former Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke. It would have sent a clear message that they were serious about the process itself and about dealing with corrupt officials within the Gauteng Provincial Government.

We firmly believe that if someone is implicated in mismanagement and negligent or intentional decision making that leads to a tragedy on the scale of Life Esidimeni, they should not be eligible for election.

In allowing Mahlangu to participate in their PEC, the ANC is effectively condoning the most heinous acts perpetrated under Mahlangu’s watch. If ANC represents the people and is for the people, then how are these elections reflective of the will of the people?

The election to the PEC represents another instance where Mahlangu appears to evade accountability with the assistance of the ANC, as it has supported her during her entire tenure as MEC in Gauteng provincial government. The Life Esidimeni Arbitration was not an alternative to political or criminal accountability. We, as affected families, still await updates from the police on their criminal investigations, including in relation to Mahlangu’s role. The National Prosecuting Authority says it’s yet to finalise the Life Esidimeni cases. Forty-five inquest dockets are apparently awaiting a decision on whether to prosecute. The Family Committee demands to know why the police are dragging their feet on such an important matter. We need answers and we want everyone responsible to be held accountable.

The memories of those who died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy have been dishonoured and trivialised by Mahlangu’s re-election and the Life Esidimeni Family Committee on behalf of the families will not rest until she is removed and is brought to justice.