28/11/2017 12:21 SAST | Updated 28/11/2017 12:21 SAST

Life Esidimeni: Makgabo Manamela Finally Apologises

"I regret that their loved ones passed away. I am so sorry for their loss," the suspended head of Gauteng mental healthcare tells arbitration hearings.

Makgabo Manamela.
Gallo Images/Sowetan/Thulani Mbele
Makgabo Manamela.

After four days on the stand, Gauteng's suspended director of mental health care services Makgabo Manamela finally apologised to family members of the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

The protracted tragedy saw the deaths, in 2016 to 2017, of 143 mentally ill people who were moved into the care of largely inexperienced‚ underfunded and poorly equipped non-governmental organisations.

The decision to move them out into the community came after Gauteng health department terminated its contract with the Life Esidimeni group, which had been caring for the patients, allegedly to save costs.

"I regret that their loved ones passed away. I am so sorry for their loss. They are never alone. That was very painful. I would appreciate it if the families would find closure," Manamela said at the Esidimeni hearings on Tuesday.

According to The Star, Manamela was responding to a question from retired chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who is leading the Life Esidimeni alternative dispute-resolution process. He asked her who should be held accountable, and she responded: "If they [my team] gave me the right or wrong information, I will be held accountable. We have to take responsibility. The leadership of the project must be held accountable. We have to take responsibility."

However, when Moseneke asked whether anyone should be criminally charged, Manamela responded that it was matter to be decided by the police.

"I am willing to be questioned by the SAPS," she said. "I am waiting for the SAPS to call me. If they do, I will go."

On Monday, Manamela also slammed the media, claiming that they were out to tarnish the image of the Gauteng department of health.

Until Tuesday, Manamela had continued to insist she bore no responsibility for the deaths, reported TimesLive.

Here are what some had to say on Twitter about the Manamela's responses during the cross-examination process.