EMBATTLED: Dr Barney Selebano has resigned as Gauteng health boss.Picture: Matthews Baloyi

More than R2 million has been paid to the two top Gauteng Health Department officials who have now resigned after being suspended with pay in February last year because of their involvement in the Esidimeni deaths, South Africa's opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Thursday.

"My estimate is that former Head of Department Dr Barney Selebano was paid more than R1.5 million during his period of suspension, and former Chief Director of Mental Health Dr. Makgabo Manamela was paid about R700 000," said Jack Bloom, a DA Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature who shadows the health department.

Dr. Selebano resigned this week on Tuesday. The next day Dr. Manamela followed suit. They were both implicated in wrongdoing in relation to the Life Esidimeni tragedy in which 143 mentally ill patients died of, among other things, starvation and neglect. 

"It is unfortunate that the disciplinary process against them was delayed by their failed challenge against the findings of the Health Ombudsman’s Esidimeni report and other stalling tactics," said Bloom.

He said Dr Selebano and Dr Manamela will both receive "a generous pension" as well.

"I anticipate that Selebano and Manamela will face criminal charges following the police investigation into the Esidimeni deaths, which should include culpable homicide, fraud and contraventions of the Mental Health Act. True justice and accountability will only occur when their culpability is assessed in a court of law," said Bloom.

African News Agency/ANA