Suspended Gauteng department of health head Dr Tiego Selebano was on Thursday confronted with contradictory evidence about when he signed the termination contract with Life Esidemeni for the care of mentally ill patients in the province.
On Tuesday, Selebano had told the alternative dispute resolution committee into the botched transfers from Life Esidimeni that he signed the termination contract with project manager Molefi Mosenogi in October 2015.
However, during cross-examination on Thursday by Advocate Lilla Crouse for Legal Aid, documents were presented to Selebano that contradicted his testimony and showed that he signed the contract in October 2016.
Crouse put it to Selebano that it was impossible for Mosenogi to have signed the contract in 2015 because he was only approached by former Gauteng MEC of Health Qedani Mahlangu in November 2015 and was formally appointed in December 2015.
“You signed in October 2016, not Oct 2015 as you have testified at this arbitration … when 81 people had already died,” Crouse said.
Selebano said this was an error, and that he took responsibility for it.
Retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who is chairing the arbitration, reminded Selebano that he was under oath and compelled to tell the truth.
“Lawyers spend a lot of time studying affidavits, you cannot depart from that at will,” Moseneke said. He cautioned Selebano to avoid giving conflicting statements as he might be charged with perjury.
“I’m not trying to argue or reconstruct … there is a typographical error in the documents,” Selebano countered.
“It’s important for our democracy that we in power tell the truth … families need to know how their families died and you can help families get closure,” Moseneke told Selebano.
“I will not sit here and try to go back and forth. It’s a thing that happened to the families, I also want closure,” Selebano replied.
On Wednesday, Selebano admitted that he was responsible for the deaths of 143 patients psychiatric patients linked to the botched transfers from Life Esidemeni to NGOs ill equipped to care for such patients.
The move not only affected patients and their families, but also led to the loss of 700 jobs the arbitration hearing heard.
“The uncaring attitude towards working people ties in with the uncaring attitude towards the people you moved,” said Moseneke.
Selebano insisted that the termination of Life Esidemeni was not done with malicious intentions.
He reiterated that it was not his decision to terminate the contract but that he was acting on instructions from former MEC Mahlangu.
– African News Agency (ANA)