Life Esidimeni: Selebano takes to the stand
Written by Keshia Jansen on December 6, 2017
Gauteng’s suspended head of health, Dr Barney Selebano, has testified at the Life Esidimeni arbitration on Tuesday.
Reports assert that Selebano was forced to testify under subpoena, after his bid to challenge the subpoena had been denied on Monday.
African News Agency reports that Selebano has denied reading a letter from the South African Society of Psychiatrists and South African Depression and Anxiety Group, cautioning the Department of Health against relocating patients from Life Esidimeni to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
It is understood that the letter highlighted the “devastating consequences” that would result from the relocation.
Selebano maintains that the letter had been addressed to former Gauteng director of mental health, Dr Makgabo Manamela and that Selebano does not recall reading it.
According to Times Live, Selebano told the court that the department was pressured to move patients to NGOs because the Life Esidimeni homes contract had been cancelled.
The cancelation of the contract left nearly 1 700 mentally ill and intellectually disabled patients in need of new homes.
Times Live further reports that according to Selebano, some of the NGOs accepted more patients than their resources could maintain in order to make more money.
This includes the Precious Angels NGO, where 20 patients died.
eNCA reports that 143 patients died in the relocation while many are still unaccounted for.
After being on the stand for three hours, Selebano admitted that the NGOs were “not fit for purpose.”