Esid imeni of­fi­cials granted re­prieve

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - ROLAND MPOFU | @thaboroe

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.

CHRIS COLLINGRIDGE

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. |

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