Former Gauteng Health HOD Dr Barney Tiego Selebano. Picture: Gauteng Department of Health
Johannesburg - The Johannesburg High Court will decide Monday if suspended Gauteng health head of the department Dr Barney Selebano will appear before the Life Esidimeni hearing.

Selebano had filed an urgent application to set aside a subpoena ordering him to testify before the arbitration.

The suspended health official had been ordered to appear before the hearing next week Monday.

Presiding over the matter was acting Judge Daniel Berger, who heard lengthy arguments from Selebano's representatives as well as the State.

Advocate Craig Watt-Pringle SC, arguing for Selebano, asked whether the Esidimeni hearing constituted an arbitration.

Watt-Pringle said that while the process was labelled an arbitration and used the arbitration law, the similarity ended there.

Instead it qualified more as a hybrid process, as it focused more on "opening it up" and finding out what happened.

"[In fact] there is little difference between the Marikana commission of inquiry and the Esidimeni hearing," he said.

Watt-Pringle also stressed that the Esidimeni process focused on getting closure for the families. If the aim is to get closure, he questioned what role a subpoena played in this.

William Mokhare, representing Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa as well as Gauteng Premier David Makhura, disputed this, arguing that the hearing was an arbitration as all the different representatives were party to an agreement.

Following this, Berger then ruled that judgment would be handed down on Monday at 10am.

"If I hand down down judgment on Friday, with the lengthy urgent court roll, I won't do justice to the matter.

"So judgment will be handed down on Monday... Selebano will be excused from the hearing until 9.30am on Tuesday depending on the outcome."

Selebano was suspended in the wake of recommendations by Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba following the death of 143 psychiatric patients at non-government organisations.

He and former Director of Mental Health Dr Makgabo Manamela then faced disciplinary action, with both of them facing seven and eight charges respectively. 

IOL