The suspended head of the Gauteng health department, Barney Tiego Selebano has on Wednesday, owned up to the deaths of 143 psychiatric patients linked to the fatal transfers from Life Esidimeni.
“I take accountability, It happened under my watch,” Selebano told retired deputy chief justice, Dikgang Moseneke, during the second day of testifying before the Esidimeni Arbitration Hearings.
He also conceded that the patients died as a result of negligence, among other ills.
Selebano said his department was always under financial pressure and costs were always the biggest challenge for many others in his position in the country.
On Tuesday, the HOD admitted that he approved the plan to move patients to unlicensed NGO’s. He said he didn’t inspect whether the facilities were fit for the purpose as he had tasked his managers to do so.
“Its not feasible for an HOD anywhere in the country to run every single project on the ground. That’s why you trust your managers, if you don’t trust them, who are you going to trust,” Selebano said.
Relatives of psychiatric patients who survived the Life Esidimeni relocation project want reassurances that the tragedy will never be repeated
“When our beloved were moved from Life Esidimeni it was because the contract was not extended, now that my sister and others are moved back to Life Esidimeni, a concern is this, does the government have a contract with Life Esidimeni now and for how long so that we know that we are safe, we don’t want to hear again that it is closing. Is it cheaper now”, said Lesego Baloyi, Relative of Patient.
Nomsa was not informed when her brother was moved from #LifeEsidimeni. She eventually tracked him down after searching for him in Hammanskraal.
The Bopholong NGO was beautiful inside and out. But her brother and other patients were kept in a locked outside room.
— Koketso Dlongolo (@Kokid8) December 4, 2017
143 people died and dozens more are still unaccounted for after the Gauteng Health Department moved the Life Esidimeni patients to unlicensed NGOs.
The HOD, who is a medical doctor, said he wouldn’t have allowed the marathon project to take place in the first place if he had known what he knows now.
When asked why his health department continued to move patients when their own psychiatrists and families of the patients warned against it, Selebano had no plausible answer.
“Despite all warnings, you and the MEC (Qedani Mahlangu) pushed ahead with the project, was it executive arrogance?” asked Moseneke.
“No, I am not an arrogant person,” Selebano replied.
“Death is the ultimate price these patients paid, there are also survivors of this tragedy. Why did you proceed despite warnings?” pressed Moseneke.
“If I had the foresight, I would have stopped,” said Selebano.
The hearing continues…