I used my authority to remove patients from NGOs – Selebano

The Life Esidimeni inquest was on Thursday postponed to October following an intense four-day grilling of Dr Tiego Ephraim Selebano.

In probing if health officials should be held criminally liable for the deaths of the 144 mental health patients in 2016, the former Gauteng head of health department said after the deaths of patients, he decided to remove the remaining ones from non-government organisations (NGO) to provincial health facilities in the Tshwane district.

Selebano told the high court in Pretoria, where the inquest was taking place, that he had a discussion with the then minister of health Aaron Motsoaledi, who said the department had received negative publicity.

“I used my authority to remove patients from the NGOs. No one else had the authority to decide on the removal of the patients from the NGOs,” said Selebano.

“I called CEOs from Pretoria West, Weskoppies [hospital], Tshwane district and EMS [Emergency Medical Service] to a meeting to discuss how we were going to remove the patients from [the] NGOs. When we did, we spread them in all those hospitals.”

Judge Jowie Teffo stated when he adjourned the inquest that former director of health, Dr Makgabo Manamela, will be next to testify in October.

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