NEWS

Life Esidimeni: 'You've Done Nothing To Show Remorse'

"Why was it so difficult to get you here to come and testify…if you have nothing to hide?"

08/12/2017 06:04 SAST | Updated 08/12/2017 06:06 SAST
City Press

Legal Aid advocate Lilla Crous submitted to the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing that suspended head of Gauteng health Barney Selebano has shown no remorse for his role in the death of over 140 mentally ill patients.

"If you are so eager to come and show what went wrong, why was it so difficult to get you here to come and testify...if you have nothing to hide?" she asked.

The same sentiment was echoed by Solidarity's Dirk Groenewald.

"You have not taken disciplinary action against any your employees. You have appealed the findings of the ombud, you have done everything in your power to not testify at these proceedings. You have not resigned, you have taken a salary for...10 months now," Groenewald said.

Selebano, who was testifying in Parktown, Johannesburg on Thursday, retorted that he had not been afforded the opportunity to do so.

The former head of department, who has previously worked as the CEO of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, not only challenged the health ombudsman's report of February, but also applied to set aside his subpoena to appear as a witness in the arbitration.

His application was set aside on Monday.

He admitted to Groenewald the had not done anything to show accountability.

I've not done anything. I have not had an opportunity to do that.

He said that a lot could have been done, but added that an attempt to pay for the families' funerals would have been perceived as a bribe.

Selebano also testified that he was well within his rights to appeal the finding of the health ombudsman, saying that he would not limit his Constitutional rights as a citizen.

When asked if he would vacate his position, he gave a non-committal answer, saying that the matter would be ventilated at the disciplinary hearing.

"If anything goes wrong under your watch, whether you knew about it, whether you were active and involved in it, it doesn't matter, you must stand up and take accountability for it," he said.

Although the moving of patients was supposedly a cost-cutting one, which he admitted was unlawful, it was revealed that costs could have been saved when Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in a statement to Parliament that there was more than enough to look after the patients.

Selebano relied on the benefit of hindsight, saying that his actions would have been different had he known what the "unintentional and irreversible" effects would be.

He testified that his intention wasn't to cover anyone's tracks.

He said stepping down would mean that he would not be put in front of a disciplinary hearing, something he did not want to run away from.

As the accounting officer, whether you knew about it or were active or not in it, you must stand up and say will you be held accountable for it,

He said he did not know if he should get his job back after all that has happened.

He has earned close to R1m before tax since his suspension.

-- News24