THE Life Esidimeni inquest has been adjourned until Friday, 23 July.

Presiding Judge Mmonoa Teffo postponed the matter for government officials implicated in the matter to resolve their legal representation.

The inquest was established to determine the cause of death of Life Esidimeni patients and whether anyone should be held criminally liable.

The decision on whether to prosecute or not will be determined by the National Prosecution Authority.

The inquest started on Monday, 19 July.

This is what the court has heard so far: The decision to terminate the contract with Life Esidimeni was taken in September 2015.

Between October 2015 and April 2016, about 16 patients were transferred from Life Esidimeni to NGOs every month. Between 500 and 800 patients were transferred in May and June 2016.

The NGOs were incapable of providing the necessary care and some were unlicensed and were not properly vetted.

Former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, former Head of Department Dr Barney Selebano and former head of the Mental Health Directorate Dr Makgabo Manamela were identified as the key players of the project, which was named the Marathon Project and aimed to transfer patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to NGOs.

Representing Mahlangu, Advocate Laurance Hodes told Teffo on Monday that she was not personally responsible for any of these deaths.

Mahlangu said she acted on the advice of the medical specialist and the doctors involved.

She also said the decision to terminate was taken by Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

NPO Section27, representing 44 families, told the court it would show the conduct of the relevant health officials linked to the patients’ deaths.

Advocate Adila Hassim said the organisation would also submit evidence collected during the Life Esidimeni arbitration and the findings of retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who led the arbitration which ran from 2017 to 2018.

On Tuesday, former Life Esidimeni Group managing director Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa told the court the department said it was terminating its contract with them due to the cost of their services.

Mkhatshwa said he warned Manamela and raised it with Selebano that the haphazard transfer of patients might end up in disaster, which could ultimately lead to death.

He said they didn’t know where the mental healthcare patients were being taken to and it was beyond their control.

Mkhatshwa said that normal procedures to be followed when moving mentally ill patients to another facility to ensure they do not relapse were not followed.

At least 30 witnesses are expected to appear before the inquest.