The evidence provided yesterday by Finance MEC Barbara Creecy to the Esidimeni arbitration hearings exposes the deep rot in the Gauteng Health Department and deepens the culpability of former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and her top officials in the deaths of mental health patients.
According to Creecy, there was no budgetary pressure to cut core services but departments were instructed to reduce spending on travel‚ events‚ catering‚ communication‚ entertainment and venues.
She said there was adequate budget for mental health services including the Life Esidimeni contract.
Creecy’s evidence directly contradicts Mahlangu’s claim that the Esidimeni contract was cancelled because of pressure from treasury to cut costs in this area.
Furthermore, there was continued wasteful expenditure, including R59 million paid to legal firm Ncebetsha Madlanga and R435 000 to McKinsey for a two day workshop.
The department still suffers from the terrible mismanagement under Mahlangu where dubious contracts were rife and unpaid accounts ballooned to over R4 billion.
It is still a puzzle why she was so obsessed with canceling the Esidimeni contract in such haste despite all the warnings that it would lead to disaster.
It appears that some people in NGOs saw financial opportunity in taking Esidimeni patients as more than R47 million was paid to them which is not completely accounted for.
Police need to finalize their investigations as soon as possible to press charges including murder, culpable homicide, fraud and theft against all implicated people.