The Head of the Gauteng Department of Health, Dr Tiego Selebano, has been placed on precautionary suspension following the deaths of 94 psychiatric patients who were moved from the Healthcare Life Esidimeni last year.

The Director of Mental Health, Dr Makgabo Manamela, was given 48 hours to give reasons why she should not be dismissed.

Dr Selebano’s suspension follows the Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba’s report into the deaths of patients transferred from the Esidimeni facility into the care of 27 NGOs, which the report revealed were operating unlawfully.

Prof Makgoba found that the senior officials and former Gauteng Health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, who stepped down in the wake of the report, were reckless and negligent in their actions and recommended that disciplinary measures be instituted against those identified in the report.

Dr Selebano was accused of tampering with evidence during the investigation. The ombudsman recommended disciplinary action against Dr Selebano for gross misconduct and incompetence in accordance with the Disciplinary Code and Procedure.

The ombudsman also recommended disciplinary hearings against Manamela for gross misconduct and incompetence as well as tampering with evidence.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, has appointed Dr Ernest Kenoshi, currently the CEO of Steve Biko Academic Hospital, as acting Head of Department pending an outcome of disciplinary hearing.

“Dr Kenoshi’s long track record in the public healthcare sector will assist in stabilising the department, strengthen its leadership and ensure the achievements of a better health outcome in the province,” said Gauteng government spokesperson, Thabo Masebe.

A government task team led by the Gauteng Director-General in the Office of the Premier, Phindile Baleni, together with the Deputy General in the National Department of Health, Precious Matsoso, has commenced work in preparation for the relocation of the mental health patients currently being cared for in various NGOs.

So far, the provincial government says that 22 NGOs have been visited and will conclude the visitation process on Friday, 10 February.

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