Selebano misses disciplinary hearing

16 January 2018 - 18:23 By Katharine Child
Suspended Gauteng health department director Barney Selebano.
Suspended Gauteng health department director Barney Selebano.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

The decision by former Gauteng health department head Barney Selebano to "take the sword" and resign means his Gauteng disciplinary hearing into his role in the Esidimeni tragedy will never be completed.

The doctor had been charged with "gross misconduct" by the department after the Health Ombudsman‚ Malegapuru Makgoba‚ had recommended his suspension.

This was after Makgoba found Selebano's fingerprints were peppered throughout the tragedy.

Selebano had been suspended from the department since the middle of February last year‚ drawing a salary of over R1.3-million in the past year. This figure is based on answers in the Gauteng legislature that Selebano had been paid R821‚078 between February and September. Selebano’s internal disciplinary hearings started in December and were due to start again in January.

But Gauteng Premier David Makhura's spokesman‚ Thabo Masebe‚ confirmed on Tuesday they would obviously not continue.

During his interview with the ombudsman at the end of 2016‚ Selebano had said repeatedly he would "take the sword" and said during the Life Esidimeni hearings he took "responsibility".

In the past year‚ Selebano first challenged the ombudsman's report that found his fingerprints peppered throughout the project delaying his internal disciplinary hearing.

He lost his challenge in November last year and the report's findings were upheld.

He then challenged his subpoena to appear at the Esidimeni hearings‚ arguing that technically the arbitration was not being run in line with the Arbitration Act and that the subpoena was thus invalid.

He lost his case in the Johannesburg High Court and was forced to testify at the hearings in December.

On the stand‚ he said he wished he could have foreseen the tragedy but didn’t answer why he ignored warnings. "If I could see into the future….I would have stopped the whole thing."

A few times on the stand‚ he pointed fingers for the tragedy at his fellow head honchos - former MEC Qedani Mahlangu and Dr Makgoba Manamela.

He‚ in both legal papers and on the stand‚ suggested he had so many staff underneath him he couldn’t have known what was happening.

But he also said he took "responsibility".

On his last day of testimony‚ Reverend Joseph Maboe‚ who lost his son Billy in the tragedy‚ prayed for Selebano on the stand.

Both the Special Investigating Unit and the Hawks are investigating the Life Esidimeni matter.

The Democratic Alliance's Jack Bloom welcomed the resignation but stated that "Selebano should face criminal charges in a court of law along with former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and other implicated officials".

- TimesLIVE