Makgabo Manamela

Johannesburg - The FF Plus on Thursday said "resigning" from the Gauteng Department of Health will not stop the prosecution of officials implicated in the Life Esidimeni transfer tragedy in which 143 mentally ill patients lost their lives in appalling circumstances that included starvation and neglect.

Health department head Barney Selebano, who was in charge of the botched cost-saving move of patients to supposedly cheaper places of care where they met their fate, resigned on Tuesday. Makgabo Manamela, the suspended director of health, resigned the next day. 

During her testimony last year, Manamela admitted before the Esidimeni arbitration hearing, which resumes Thursday, that all 27 of the places where patients were taken to did not have necessary permits to look after them.

Reacting to the second resignation in as many days, the FF Plus said implicated officials were jumping from a sinking ship to avoid prosecution.

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"The FF Plus has already yesterday made it very clear that Selebano will not escape prosecution ... the FF Plus will ensure that everyone who has a stake in the Esidimeni tragedy, will be prosecuted," said on Thursday, adding that Manamela will also face prosecution. 

The FF Plus said it had hoped that Gauteng Premier David Makhura would not accept resignations before the arbitration hearing was over, but it appeared he had already done so. 

Makhura's office could not be immediately reached.

African News Agency/ANA