The Gauteng Department of Health's suspended head Dr Tiego "Barney" Selebano on Tuesday played down his role in moving patients out of Life Esidimeni, which left 143 mental healthcare users dead. He is the latest official to claim he had no real responsibility in the deaths. By GREG NICOLSON.
Dr Tiego Selebano's testimony on Tuesday was defined by three phrases. He signed off on the Life Esidimeni plan; his signature was on all the key documents. He was the highest-ranking official to testify at the Johannesburg arbitrations. Under pressure, he repeated that he could only answer "in hindsight", all decisions made were by "the collective", and he "did not recall" key events.
Selebano tried to avoid answering direct questions. Despite his stated commitment to assist the proceedings, he refused to take responsibility for the death of at least 143 patients who died after the Gauteng Health Department moved them from Life Esidimeni, or honestly talk about the process, frustrating lawyers and families. His employee, Dr Makgabo Manamela, suspended director of mental health services, did the same when she appeared last week.
The arbitration emerged out of a recommendation in Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba's report on the deaths. He believed...