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Esidimeni: 'It's highly regrettable that department missed warnings'

Dr Barney Selebano signed the letter terminating the Life Esidimeni contract which resulted in patients being moved to ill-equipped NGOs, where 143 of them died.

Dr Barney Selebano at the Life Esidimeni hearings on 5 December 2017. Picture: Screengrab/Youtube

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng’s suspended Health HOD has conceded that the department was “doing things terribly wrong” by not listening to warnings on its decision to terminate a contract with the Life Esidimeni group.

Dr Barney Selebano has been testifying for a second day at the arbitration hearings.

He signed the letter terminating the Life Esidimeni contract which resulted in patients being moved to ill-equipped NGOs, where 143 of them died.

After failing to answer questions about ignoring warnings by clinicians, psychiatrists, civil society groups and families, Selebano was given time to read a departmental affidavit talking about resistance to these warnings.

The affidavit was in response to an urgent court interdict filed by these organisations to try and stop the transfers.

The court ruled in favour of the department and according to former president of the South African Society of Psychiatrists Dr Mvuyiso Talatala, that’s because the department's officials lied to the court.

Selebano on Wednesday admitted that after reading this document, he realises the department was in the wrong.

“It was regrettable, it is highly, highly regrettable that we missed these warning. We walked away from these warnings. Not only missed them, just walked away from them. It is highly regrettable – sad.”

Selebano’s signature is among those on this affidavit.