Bhekisisa can reveal Mahlangu is not a student at the London School of Economics and Political Science after lodging a Freedom of Information request.
Embattled former Gauteng Health MEC is not a registered student at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) as previously alleged in media reports.
Early last week, Rapport cited that “reliable sources” had revealed that Mahlangu is continuing her studies at LSE and said it had evidence that Mahlangu was onboard a 29 July flight from South Africa to Heathrow Airport.
State Advocate Tebogo Hutamo reported that Mahlangu would be unable to testify before ongoing arbitration hearings into the deaths of more than 100 mental health patients during her tenure because she was currently writing exams. Bhekisisa later broke news that no exams were scheduled at LSE until January 2018.
Now, LSE has confirmed that Mahlangu is not a registered student at the university after Bhekisisa filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request with the school.
“After a careful search we have not been able to find that the person in question is registered at the school,” LSE head of external communications Aine Duffy told Bhekisisa.
Under United Kingdom data protection law, schools are prohibited from publicly confirming a student’s registration status without a FOI petition.
Meanwhile, arbitration hearings into the patient deaths continue this week. The deaths followed a 2015 decision by then Gauteng health MEC Mahlangu to terminate a long-standing contract with the private hospital group Life Esidimeni, which provided state-funded psychiatric care to hundreds of patients. More than 1 300 patients were eventually transferred out of Life Esidimeni care and into that of 27 unlicensed nongovernmental organisations. Almost 60 of these patients remain missing to this day, according to recent arbitration testimony.
Presiding retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke has said he would not conclude the process without testimony from Mahlangu as well as Gauteng head of health Barney Selebano and the director of the mental health directorate, Makgabo Manamela. Hearings were expected to adjourn at the end of October but Mahlangu has said she would only be available in November or December to appear before the judge, advocates and families, according to Hutamo.
Adri Kotze is a senior investigative journalist and Bhekisisa's former Africa editor. Follow her on Twitter @adrikotze.
Pontsho Pilane is the communications manager at Soul City Institute for Social Justice. Pilane was a health journalist at Bhekisisa from 2017 until 2019.
Laura Lopez Gonzalez is a freelance health journalist and editor. She was Bhekisisa's news editor then deputy editor between 2016 and 2020. Follow her on Twitter @LLopezGonzalez