Judge warns under-siege Selebano against lying

Suspended Gauteng health head Dr Barney Selebano told the Esidimeni hearing yesterday that he signed licences for NGOs thinking that Dr Makgabo Manamela had certified their competence. /Alaister Russell
Suspended Gauteng health head Dr Barney Selebano told the Esidimeni hearing yesterday that he signed licences for NGOs thinking that Dr Makgabo Manamela had certified their competence. /Alaister Russell

"I should have checked more; I should have listened more; I could have done better."

These were the words of suspended Gauteng department of health head Dr Barney Selebano at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing yesterday before retired deputy chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

Selebano was testifying about his role in the marathon project that left 143 mentally ill patients dead. They perished after they were transferred from Life Esidimeni facilities to various NGOs in Gauteng.

Selebano said he had signed licences that allowed NGOs to care for patients without checking if they were suitable.

"I was under the impression that everything was done properly," he said. Selebano said he was merely legalising the licences that were already signed by suspended director of mental services, Dr Makgabo Manamela.

Moseneke took a dim view of Selebano's statements and questioned him about why Selebano had signed the licences blindly. "You sign things blindly? You just sign because some junior of yours signed and endangered patients in the process?" asked Moseneke.

Selebano responded: "You are prone to errors, some of the errors were irresponsible."

An irritated Moseneke charged: "You sign licences for NGOs where people were already dying, how do you do that? ... You go and sign for all these NGOs to harm people."

Selebano said he did not mean to harm anyone.

"You put it as though I woke up in the morning and said I am going to harm people . Every time as a leader you depend on people ... with all these I shouldn't have signed. I will never go out and bring harm to our own, I will never."

Moseneke said: "A good citizen should be the first when they are wrong to say I am sorry, I should have done better."

Selebano agreed.

The hearing heard Selebano signed the plan to transfer patients a year after Manamela presented it to him.

Earlier, he had said he signed the plan in 2015, but it was later shown through records he signed the plan in 2016 after some patients had already died at NGOs.

Moseneke warned Selebano he was under oath.

He further warned Selebano he could be charged with perjury if he continued to lie.

The hearing continues.

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