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Selebano says termination of Esidimeni contract not his decision

Gauteng's suspended Health HOD Dr Barney Selebano is testifying in Parktown on Tuesday on his role in the disastrous project, which lead to the deaths of 143 psychiatric patients.

Dr Barney Selebano. Picture: health.gpg.gov.za

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng's suspended Health HOD Dr Barney Selebano has told the Esidimeni arbitration hearings it was not his job to identify NGOs or make sure they were safe for mentally ill patients.

Selebano is testifying in Parktown on Tuesday on his role in the disastrous project, which led to the deaths of 143 psychiatric patients.

He says he did sign the letter notifying Life Esidimeni that its contract was being terminated, but insists he didn't take the decision.

Selebano says he was given the letter of termination by management at the Gauteng Health Department, he read through the document and then signed it.

Selebano, however, also told retired deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke that he was not part of the project team and did not need to inspect NGOs.

Selebano says he only found out about problems with the transfer of patients in July last year when Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi phoned him.

By then, dozens of patients had already died.

Selebano has conceded that the Life Esidimeni project was implemented too hastily and the plans were flawed.

Evidence leader Patrick Ngutshana has read out a statement by Selebano, which he made to health ombudsman professor Makegapuru Makgoba.

“'There haste was too much, you could have done it in a phased way'. You have already referred to the fact that your view was that it ought to have been phased.”

Selebano says he still thinks the project could've been better prepared and executed.

“The haste, patients were moved very quickly. It’s also hindsight that you move patients quickly, and I’m saying this judge because now I know that patients were moved fast, the preparations were not up to scratch, I now know that. But that time, honestly speaking, I did not know that.”

The suspended Gauteng Health HOD says he takes responsibility for the project, but not for the deaths that it caused.

WATCH: Esidimeni hearing