09/02/2017 10:29 SAST | Updated 09/02/2017 11:17 SAST

Gauteng's Health Head Has Been Suspended Over The Life Esidimeni Deaths

Dr Barney Selebano's head would not be the last to roll, says the premier's office.

Ihsaan Haffejee/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Demonstrators gathered in front of the office of the presidency of Gauteng State hold placards during a protest held over the death of 94 psychiatry patients sent to civil society organization headquarters by the Esidimeni Clinic in Johannesburg due to the high costs of treatment, in Johannesburg on February 2, 2017.

The head of department at the Gauteng Department of Health has been suspended, after being fingered in the health ombudsman's report about the Life Esidimeni deaths.

News24 reported that Dr Barney Selebano was suspended in line with the recommendation's contained the report. This was confirmed by the Gauteng Premier David Makhura's spokesperson, Thabo Masebe.

Masebe told News24 that this would not be the first head to roll. Gauteng MEC, Qedani Mahlangu resigned the night before the report was released.

According to the ombud's report, 94 mentally ill patients died after being transferred from Life Esidimeni facilities to NGOs in Gauteng. The NGOs were not properly registered, could not cater for the patients, and many of the patients died of hunger and thirst.

The report directly fingered Mahlangu, Selebano and director Dr Makgabo Manamela as "key players" in the project, News24 reported.

The report said: "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."

The ombud recommended that there should be disciplinary proceedings against Selebano and Manamela for "gross misconduct", including tampering with evidence, New24 reported.