R1.169 million paid to suspended Esidimeni officials
Two senior officials implicated in the transfers that led to the deaths of more than 100 Esidimeni patients have received R1.169 million while suspended on full pay.
Six other officials involved in the scandal around the treatment of state psychiatric patients are still working for the Gauteng Health Department.
This was disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to questions in the Gauteng Legislature by the Democratic Alliance’s MPL‚ Jack Bloom.
He said in a statement on Tuesday that the head of department (HOD) Dr Tiego Selebano and Director of Mental Health Dr Makgabo Manamela were suspended in February this year after the report of the Health Ombudsman.
"Dr Selebano has since been paid R784‚040 and Dr Manamela has received R385‚269 while their disciplinary process continues."
This comes after the inquiry of the health ombudsman‚ Prof Malegapuru Makgoba‚ into the deaths of state psychiatric patients after they were transferred from Life Esidimeni care centres to 27 unregistered NGOs across the province. The ombudsman called for urgent action to be taken‚ including the closure of some NGOs and for the remaining patients to be moved to registered facilities.
“I am disappointed that the disciplinary cases are taking so long and that huge amounts of money are being paid to suspended officials‚” Bloom said.
“It also means that a permanent HOD and Mental Health Director cannot be appointed so long as the incumbents are still employed by the department.
“Every effort should be made to conclude the disciplinary cases as soon as possible so that there is accountability and justice for the victims.”
Makgoba in February recommended disciplinary action against Selebano for gross misconduct and incompetence in accordance with the Disciplinary Code and Procedure.
The ombudsman also recommended disciplinary hearings against Manamela for gross misconduct and incompetence as well as tampering with evidence.
Makgoba further said the officials should be reported to their respective professional bodies for "appropriate remedial action with regard professional and ethical conduct".
Bloom said a further six deputy directors faced disciplinary hearings but were not suspended.
According to MEC Ramokgopa‚ he said‚ this was because there was no reason to suspend them “when the Health Ombudsman's recommendation was for 'corrective' disciplinary action.”
Ramokgopa said that the Department had to follow supply chain processes to get outside professionals to handle the disciplinary hearings‚ which led to delays.
Said Bloom: “A detailed report on the outcomes is awaited by the MEC and will be communicated thereafter‚ and it is anticipated that the remaining hearings on two of the six deputy directors will be concluded by the end of August.”
The premier's office is handling the matters of the HOD and Director.