DA welcomes suspension of Gauteng health department head

2017-02-09 17:25
Qedani Mahlangu. (City Press)

Qedani Mahlangu. (City Press)

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Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance has welcomed the suspension of the head of Gauteng's health department, Dr Barney Selebano, following the deaths of 94 mental health patients.

"This is a necessary step in the disciplinary process which will open the way for new top level appointments that will hopefully be more professional and ethical," Jack Bloom, MPL of the DA, told News24.

Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba revealed last week in a report that 94 patients had died after being transferred from Life Esidimeni to various NGOs across Gauteng.

The rushed transfer came after the department's contract with Life Esidimeni was not renewed.

Bloom also welcomed the notice of intention to suspend mental health head, Dr Makgabo Manamela. The DA has said that the ombudsman's report names nine other senior officials who also need to be suspended and disciplined.

In the report Makgoba identified health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, Selebano and Manamela as the "key players" in the tragedy.

"Their fingerprints are peppered throughout the project. The decision was reckless, unwise and flawed, with inadequate planning and a chaotic and 'rushed or hurried' implementation process," Makgoba said.

READ: Overhaul entire Gauteng health care system – SA Psychiatrists

Overcrowding

The office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura said it remains focused on implementing the recommendations of the report.

Previously, spokesperson Thabo Masebe told News24 "other officials against whom adverse findings were made will also be suspended soon".

"From the time when we accepted the report, we said we would swiftly implement the recommendations of the ombudsman, which is what we have been doing since last week. We continue to give the matter our utmost priority," said Masebe.

The DA has called on the department of health to prioritise finding accommodation for mental health patients currently being accommodated by unlicensed NGOs.

According to Bloom, existing psychiatric hospitals are overcrowded and the department should request Life Esidimeni to reopen its doors in order to house mentally ill patients.

Mahlangu stepped down last week, hours before the health ombudsman released his report.

Opposition parties, the EFF, DA and COPE laid charges against Mahlangu and called for Gauteng Premier David Makhura to step down.

A new acting head of department has been appointed in the interim.

"The newly appointed acting head of the department, Dr Ernest Kenoshi, faces a daunting task in restoring morale and establishing effective management," said Bloom.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  healthcare

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