Esid imeni officials granted reprieve
GOVERNMENT officials implicated in the loss of lives during the Life Esidimeni patient relocation programme have been granted some reprieve.
The Gauteng provincial government said it was not going to pursue former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and other senior officials to pay for the more than R159 million arbitration award to relatives of those who suffered and died.
Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe revealed this development in a response to DA shadow health MEC Jack Bloom, who said the party was considering legal options to ensure that Mahlangu and other senior officials were forced to pay from their own pockets for the compensation costs.
“The Gauteng provincial government is not pursuing Mahlangu and former senior managers for the arbitration settlement. The order given by Justice (Dikgang) Moseneke was for the government to pay the claimants. There was no financial order against individuals,” said Masebe.
Bloom said the DA had in July given Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa 60 days to respond to the demand that the provincial government should pursue Mahlangu and other implicated senior officials to personally pay compensation costs.
“My letter noted that there is some urgency in this matter as action in terms of the Apportionment of Damages Act needs to take place within one year. I submitted that a period of 60 days was adequate time to take legal advice as government may see fit to commence proceedings in this matter, but I have not received any written response.
“The Act provides that a party that has been found liable in a civil claim, and has paid this claim in full, can act to recover from those who were also allegedly liable to recover a contribution for their fair share of what has been paid. Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for woeful government conduct which led to the Esidimeni tragedy,” said Bloom.
Bloom added that if government continued to stall in the matter, the legal remedy would be to take steps to review the failure to take the appropriate action. “We will continue to push the provincial government in various ways to ensure that Mahlangu and the implicated officials pay,” he said.
TWO priests have started a project to help those affected by the Life Esidimeni tragedy pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives.
Methodist Church pastors Andrew Pietersen and Joseph Maboe were also severely affected by the deaths of at least 144 Esidimeni patients.
Pietersen’s uncle Victor survived the tragedy while Maboe’s son Billy died at an unlicensed and ill-equipped psychiatric institution where he was sent.
The two clerics have partnered to raise an awareness and promote care for psychiatric patients using the word of God.
Pietersen said that the tragedy revealed that some of the patients had no one to care for them.
“(We need) to give prayer and life skills support to involuntary and assisted mental health care users and their families or loved ones,” said Pietersen. “This will lead to dignity, respect and improved health and active community involvement in the support of people with mental illness or disability.”
He added that it was vital for Christians to lend a helping hand and reach out to people living with such conditions and their loved ones.
“People with mental disability or illness are also created in God’s image.
“Show them love, care and respect,” he implored.
Pietersen also said they want to support patients and the families of the survivors of the tragedy with advice on how best to use the money that they were awarded at the Life Esidimeni arbitration.
The initiative would work together with the SA Depression and Anxiety Group, SA Federation for Mental Health and SA Society of Psychiatrists.
TWO priests are helping the surviving families of the Esidimeni tragedy. Here some people bear wooden crosses in protest outside the Health Department in Joburg following the revelation of the shocking deaths of 144 patients. |