Life Esidimeni: Dr Tiego Selebano to appear before HPCSA in October

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  • The Health Professions Council of South Africa said the hearing into Dr Tiego Selebano for his role in Life Esidimeni would be held in October.
  • It added Selebano's hearing was delayed due to Covid-19, among other things. 
  • The Life Esidimeni inquest has heard how Dr Makgabo Manamela believed Life Esdimeni was trying to sabotage the government by delaying moving patients. 

Covid-19 restrictions as well as the unavailability of witnesses and documents are some of the excuses that professional health bodies have put forward for why disciplinary hearings against officials implicated in the Life Esidimeni tragedy have still not commenced. 

In 2018, Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba recommended Dr Tiego "Barney"  Selebano and Dr Makgabo Manamela be reported to their professional medical bodies for investigation for their alleged role in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.  

Makgoba called Selebano and Manamela the architects of the project that led to 144 people dying when they were moved from Life Esidimeni to NGOs.

They both resigned from their positions in 2017.  

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) was supposed to look into Selebano's conduct, while the SA Nursing Council (SANC) was supposed to investigate Manamela. 

At the time of the project, Selebano was the Gauteng health department's head of department, while Manamela, a nurse by profession, was the head of mental health services. 

ALSO READ | On last day of operations, Life Esidimeni centre had to scramble to get accommodation for patients

Despite Makgoba recommending swift action against them, their disciplinary hearings have been delayed for several years.  

In written responses to parliamentary questions by the DA's Siviwe Gwarube, the HPCSA said Selebano's conduct was investigated in October 2018.  

"After deliberations based on the available evidence, the committee determined that there are grounds for a professional conduct inquiry into the conduct of Dr TE Selebano and directed that an inquiry into [the] matter be held."

It added disciplinary action was ongoing. 

"The matter had been set down for hearing on several occasions and had been postponed for a variety of reasons, including the obtainment of the transcripts from Judge [Dikgang] Moseneke's arbitration and the lockdown, due to Covid-19, making it impossible to have a physical hearing."

Selebano, the HPCSA said, had objected to a virtual hearing.  

The case will now be heard from 13 to 15 October.  

ALSO READ | Life Esidimeni inquest: Frail patients moved to NGOs instead of hospitals - state witness

The SANC said not getting documentation from the Gauteng government regarding the case had caused delays.  

It added it was unable to predict when the case against Manamela would be concluded, saying this depended on the availability of witnesses and the volume of evidence it needed to consider. 

At the inquest on Wednesday, Judge Mmonoa Teffo heard evidence Manamela had moved Gauteng health department officials into the Life Esidimeni offices to speed up the project.

Manamela was said to believe Life Esidimeni staff was sabotaging the project.  

The inquest is sitting to determine whether anyone should be held criminally liable for the patients' deaths. 

The inquest continues.   

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