Esidimeni official fights to avoid appearing at hearing

08 November 2017 - 11:25 By Katharine Child
Life Esidimeni. File photo
Life Esidimeni. File photo
Image: Google Photo

One of the three officials behind the Life Esidimeni move‚ Dr Barney Selebano‚ has contested his subpoena to appear at the hearings.

Selebano was Head of Department of Gauteng Health when the move of the mentally ill patients took place.

Health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba fingered Selebano for "negligence or gross incompetence". Selebano is suspended and facing disciplinary action‚ but is still on full pay and has earned almost a million rand‚ according to Jack Bloom‚ the DA's Shadow MEC on Health in Gauteng.

Selebano filed an urgent application in the Johannesburg high court on Tuesday to fight his subpoena to appear at the Life Esidimeni hearings‚ said state attorney Tebogo Hutamo.

The case will be heard on November 28. Hutamo said that in the government's view "Selebano is supposed to appear before proceedings‚ which is why we took steps to have subpoena issued".

The hearings are set up to give closure to families who lost loved ones in the move. About 118 mentally ill had died by February this year in circumstances at NGOs that have been linked to a lack of food‚ water‚ blankets and medical care.

Hearing Judge Dikgang Moseneke explained he is cited in the case and may have to stop the hearings on November 28 and go to court and fight Selebano.

Hutamo also said he was also in conversation with then-MEC Qedani Mahlangu's attorneys‚ BBM attorneys‚ about her appearing at the hearing this month.

He said the state was still struggling to locate her residential address in England to send a subpoena to‚ he said. "Arrangements are being made in order that she attends proceedings during the month of November."