First HPCSA hearing regarding Esidimeni tragedy to open in September

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The former Gauteng Health Department head who presided over the Life Esidimeni tragedy, Barney Selebano, will face the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) in September in an inquiry that may eventually cost him his medical licence. According to a Bhekisisa report, Selebano was one of three high ranking officials singled out in a health ombudsman’s report into the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which saw almost 2,000 mental health patients removed from state-funded private care facilities and moved to ill-equipped community NGOs. At least 144 people eventually died as a result of the move.

The report says in the aftermath of the ombud’s report, 134 of the patients’ families agreed to take part in a historic arbitration to allow the Gauteng Health Department to avoid litigation and to promote healing. Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who presided over the arbitration, ordered Gauteng Health to report Selebano to the HPCSA for his part in signing off on the deadly move.

Moseneke also instructed the health department to report three nurses involved in the scandal to their regulatory body, the South African Nursing Council (SANC): Former director of mental health services, Makgoba Manamela and her deputy, Hannah Jacobus as well as the former head of Gauteng’s Mental Health Review Board, Dumi Masondo.

The report says in March, the HPCSA said that Selebano’s charge sheet has been finalised and that he had been informed of the charges against him. The body confirmed to Bhekisisa that Selebano’s case has now been postponed to September. Selebano is still registered with the HPCSA and can practice medicine.

Gauteng Health’s spokesperson Lesemang Matuka is quoted in the report as saying in August of last year that the department had reported Manamela, Jacobus and Masondo to SANC. While SANC declined to confirm the names of those reported to it, CEO Sizo Mchunu says investigations are ongoing.

The report says the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is also still probing 45 criminal cases related to the tragedy. The report quotes the NPA as saying last year that this process would be concluded by August 2018.

Bhekisisa report

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