JOHANNESBURG, The government of South Africa’s Gauteng Province, the country’s most developed and populous province, has confirmed that the suspended head of the Gauteng Health Department, Barney Selebano, has resigned.

The Spokesperson for the Gauteng government, Thabo Masebe, said here Tuesday that Selebano submitted his letter of resignation to Gauteng Premier David Makhura. Selebano was suspended in the wake of the Life Esidimeni tragedy in which at least 143 mentally-ill patients died after they were transferred from the facilities of contracted private healthcare provider Life Esidimeni to other ill-equipped and unlicensed facilities.

However, it is not clear if Selebano’s resignation is connected to the Esidimeni tragedy. Masebe said Makhura would make an official announcement soon.

Well, Heads of Departments in the provincial departments are employed by the Premier. And at the time when they decide to terminate their employment services with the provincial government, they will make their indications to the Premier. The Premier is currently dealing with the matter as soon as there’s a decision, he will make a public statement, said Masebe.

Meanwhile, the leader of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, in Gauteng province, Jack Bloom, said Selebano must face criminal charges for his role in the deaths of the Life Esidimeni patients despite him tendering his resignation.

I’m pleased that he’s no longer with the department, but I think that charges should be laid in connection with the Esidimeni matter. I think that resignation or dismissal in the case of all those implicated in the Esidimeni tragedy can’t be the end of the matter. Criminal charges need to be laid; it needs to go further than dismissal or resignation. And I think we need to see justice for the victims of the Esidimeni disaster.