Govern­ment or­dered to pay R1.2 m per fam­ily for Esidi­meni tragedy

African Times - - News - RUSSEL MOLEFE

GOVERN­MENT has been or­dered to pay over R1 mil­lion to the claimants of the Life Esidi­meni tragedy within three months.

The rul­ing was de­liv­ered by for­mer Deputy Chief Jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke on the last day of the ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ings in Jo­han­nes­burg.

“The govern­ment of the Repub­lic of South Africa - as rep­re­sented by the na­tional min­is­ter of health, the premier of Gaut­eng and mem­bers of the ex­ec­u­tive govern­ment - are or­dered to pay an agreed amount of R20 000 to each of the claimants listed in an­nex­ure A and B in re­spect of funeral ex­penses. The govern­ment is or­dered to pay R180 000 to each of the claimants listed in an­nex­ure A, B and C in re­spect of the shock and psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma,” he said.

“The govern­ment is or­dered to pay R1m to each of the claimants listed in an­nex­ure A, B and C as ap­pro­pri­ate re­lief or com­pen­sa­tion for the govern­ment’s breach of Con­sti­tu­tion. It can­not be later than the 19th of June 2018.”

Moseneke was scathing to­wards govern­ment and fur­ther hit it with an order to pay the le­gal costs of the ar­bi­tra­tion. He fur­ther or­dered govern­ment to pro­vide trauma coun­selling for up to three fam­ily mem­bers for each pa­tient alive or sur­viv­ing.

He said he would do­nate his ar­bi­tra­tion fees to law schools around the coun­try to fund dis­ad­van­taged law stu­dents. He also called for a mon­u­ment be erected in hon­our of the 144 men­tal health pa­tients who died when they were moved to Non Gov­ern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tions through­out the prov­ince.

Moseneke added that the rights of men­tally ill pa­tients and their fam­i­lies were vi­o­lated and dis­re­garded dur­ing the project. “All the facts here point to cru­elty‚” he said.

The chief brains be­hind the dis­as­trous project were not spared his wrath. He lashed out at for­mer Gaut­eng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, for­mer Gaut­eng health de­part­ment head Dr Bar­ney Sele­bano and for­mer Gaut­eng health de­part­ment of health di­rec­tor Dr Mak­gabo Manamela for the way they con­ducted the process. He said their de­ci­sion to move the pa­tients was ir­ra­tional and un­con­sti­tu­tional. Mahlangu was la­belled the com­man­der of the project.

“On all ac­counts she was at the helm of the marathon project. She was the ul­ti­mate leader and com­man­der. Her plea of ig­no­rance is patently un­true. Her con­duct was ir­ra­tional and she acted with im­punity‚ thinking that she could get away with it”‚ he said.

One of the or­gan­i­sa­tions rep­re­sent­ing the fam­i­lies wel­comed the out­come, la­belling it a water­shed mo­ment in the coun­try.

“This is a water­shed mo­ment in South African law. It is a water­shed mo­ment for the con­sti­tu­tion. It is a water­shed for jus­tice,” said Mark Hey­wood from Sec­tion27. He said it was clear from Moseneke’s judge­ment that govern­ment of­fi­cials acted un­law­fully. He said they should be ar­rested.

“If I were com­mis­sioner of po­lice I would be send­ing my po­lice of­fi­cers to ar­rest them and be­gin the process of press­ing crim­i­nal charges in one form or an­other. Re­gard­less, this judge­ment is of unique im­por­tance not only to South Africa, but the for the world: recog­nis­ing the health rights of the most vul­ner­a­ble in so­ci­ety, in this case the men­tally ill,” he said.

While the fam­i­lies wel­comed the judge­ment, many still wanted to know why the real rea­sons for the deadly move. Chris­tine Nx­u­malo who lost her sis­ter said they were still left with ques­tions.

“We still don’t know the rea­sons why this was done. This re­dress is great but it’s not the end. It has vin­di­cated us and given us an opportunity to reload be­cause crim­i­nal charges are what we ul­ti­mately want,” she said.

Pic­ture: Vis­ual Buzz SA

For­mer Deputy Chief Jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke.

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