SUSPENDED Gauteng head of Health Dr Barney Selebano has resigned with immediate effect from his position. The Gauteng Department of Health has confirmed his resignation on Tuesday. The department’s Lesemang Matuka divulge the reasons for his resignation but confirmed he resigned with immediate effect.
“I can confirm that the department has received the resignation from the suspended head of the department Dr Barney Selebano,” said Matuka.
Selebano was suspended from his position for his role in the Life Esidimeni tragedy where at least 140 mentally ill patients died. He oversaw the transfer of patients from Life Esidimeni to unregistered NGOs throughout the province.
In December, Selebano testified at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings in Johannesburg where he apologised for what had happened. He said he took responsibility for the regrettable deaths. He said he did not foresee such a tragedy happening. He admitted that his department did not follow advice.
He added that he took responsibility for what happened.
“We did things wrong by not heeding to advice, by not listening to other people. I take accountability. It happened under my watch. There is no way that, if you are a leader and something happens, and then you suddenly want to walk away from it,” Selebano said.
His woes seem to be far from over though as Parliament has called for legal action to be taken against him. Parliament’s Chairperson of the Select Committee on Social Services Cathy Dlamini said she welcomed the resignation but indicated it was not enough.
“Despite the resignation, the call the Committee made for accountability against those responsible for the Esidimeni tragedy remains.
“All necessary disciplinary and legal processes must continue and reach their natural conclusion,” said Dlamini.
She said the resignation would not bring closure or healing to the affected families.
“Dlamini said although it would not bring back their loved ones, the Committee was of the view that the healing process of bereaved families would only conclude once those responsible for the tragedy are held accountable.
“Furthermore, the full implementation of the recommendations made by the Office of the Health Standards Compliance will ensure that this country doesn’t experience a similar tragedy again,” she said.
Dlamini further added that it was concerning that the internal disciplinary hearing against Selabano had not been concluded, almost a year since his suspension.
“This has been a long-standing challenge within the public service and must be addressed urgently,” she said.
The Democratic Alliance’s Jack Bloom welcomed the resignation but echoed the same sentiments that more must be done for his role in the tragedy. Bloom said it was inevitable that he would have been fired following the conclusion of disciplinary measures for his role in the Esidimeni tragedy.
“This is not sufficient accountability, however, and he should face criminal charges in a court of law along with former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and other implicated officials.
“His resignation clears the way for the appointment of a new head for this troubled department which desperately needs strong leadership to fix budgetary problems and provide quality health care to all patients,” he said.
Gauteng head of Health Dr Barney Selebano resigns