Stop-start procedures: Life Esidimeni Inquest postponed to August

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Jul 23, 2021

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Cape Town - The Life Esidimeni Inquest has been postponed for the second time this week and is set to pick up on 2 August after newly appointed legal representatives of potentially implicated officials requested more time to adequately prepare.

Advocate Shavhani Russel Sibara, who represents Former Life Esidimeni managing director, Dr Makgabo Manamela, requested the matter to be postponed.

“We request to have the matter stood down so that I can familiarise myself with the proceedings. I want to put it on record that I received a call from the state attorney's office last night at 8.30, and I only managed to communicate with my client throughout the better part of the night. I don't have access to the case line, and I don't have the list of witnesses,” he said.

“I'm quite aware that this is a very serious matter in which a number of people died, and I respect the court's time. We don't intend to waste the court’s time, but I just came into the proceedings last night.”

Chairing the virtual inquest, Judge Mmonoa Teffo, granted the postponement and said given the importance of the matter, all parties who have obtained legal representation should be afforded the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the proceedings and consult with their legal representatives.

“We should ensure that all the parties, including the government officials, should be properly represented, and under the circumstances, it is in the interest of justice to postpone this matter until the 2nd of August where all the concerns that have been raised should have been resolved so that the proceedings can run smoothly,” she said.

On Wednesday, the inquest was postponed to today after concerns were raised about the legal representation of potentially implicated government officials that had dealt with the transfer of hundreds of psychiatric patients.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) started the formal inquiry on Monday, five years after the tragedy in which at least 144 psychiatric patients died.

The Gauteng health department transferred the patients in 2016 from Life Esidimeni to various unlicensed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that were not equipped to care for the patients.

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