Health head loses neg­li­gence ap­peal

Tri­bunal Om­buds­man ruled depart­ment chief should be probed for his role in Life Esidi­meni pa­tient tragedy

The Times (South Africa) - - News - By KATHARINE CHILD

● The sus­pended head of the Gaut­eng health depart­ment, Dr Bar­ney Sele­bano, has lost his ap­peal against an om­buds­man rul­ing that he should be in­ves­ti­gated for neg­li­gence and gross in­com­pe­tence.

Sele­bano was in charge of the depart­ment when psy­chi­atric pa­tients were moved from Life Esidi­meni clin­ics, caus­ing at least 143 deaths.

Health om­buds­man Mak­goba Male­ga­puru in­ves­ti­gated the Life Esidi­meni clo­sures and his re­port, re­leased on Fe­bru­ary 1, sug­gested that Sele­bano be sus­pended and in­ves­ti­gated for neg­li­gence and/or gross in­com­pe­tence.

He also sug­gested that Sele­bano be re­ported to the Health Pro­fes­sions Coun­cil of SA‚ to in­ves­ti­gate re­vok­ing his med­i­cal li­cence.

Mak­goba’s re­port into the tragedy ac­cused Sele­bano of be­ing one of three of­fi­cials whose “fin­ger­prints were pep­pered through­out the process”.

In his in­ter­view with the om­buds­man about the tragedy‚ Sele­bano re­peat­edly said he would “take the sword”.

How­ever‚ since then Sele­bano has ap­pealed against the find­ings of the re­port, de­lay­ing his own dis­ci­plinary hear­ing.

A tri­bunal, headed by re­tired judge Bernard Ngoepe, heard his ap­peal.

The om­buds­man’s of­fice an­nounced yes­ter­day the ap­peal was dis­missed.

In a sep­a­rate le­gal process, Sele­bano has also turned to the Jo­han­nes­burg High Court to chal­lenge a sub­poena for him to tes­tify be­fore ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ings into the Life Esidi­meni tragedy.

This will be heard on Novem­ber 28. One of the ar­gu­ments in his court pa­pers‚ which were filed last week‚ was that his ap­peal against the om­buds­man’s find­ings had not yet been fi­nalised.

He also said he might in­crim­i­nate him­self if he tes­ti­fied at the hear­ings.

In his in­ter­view with the om­buds­man‚ Sele­bano re­peat­edly said he would “take the sword”

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