Life Esidimeni decision due on Monday

Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke is heading the arbitration hearings between the State and the families of victims in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke is heading the arbitration hearings between the State and the families of victims in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
Image: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES

The survivors of Life Esidimeni and the families of the dead will receive closure on Monday when the former deputy chief justice‚ Judge Dikgang Moseneke announces how much they will be compensated.

The state and the legal team for the families of the deceased and the survivors held arbitration hearings after 144 severely mentally ill patients died because the state moved them to ill-equipped nongovernmental organisations from Life Esidimeni facilities.

Former Gauteng MEC for Health and Social Development Qedani Mahlangu had been repeatedly warned not to move patients from Life Esidimeni homes into NGOs.

As arbitrator of the Life Esidimeni hearings‚ Moseneke will announce the amount as "just and equitable relief" for families.

Public interest law centre SECTION27‚ which represents 63 families‚ asked for R1.5-million in constitutional damages‚ an unusual approach regarding compensation.

Section27 advocate Adila Hassim argued that the amount is for a breach of the victims' constitutional rights by government officials - who did not uphold the Constitution.

Of the total amount requested‚ R500 000 will be donated to the mental health care sector.

The amount was calculated by actuaries‚ said family representative Christine Nxumalo‚ whose sister Virginia Machpelah was one of the dead.

In a settlement with the state R200 000 was awarded to victims' families - R20 000 for funeral costs and R180 000 for emotional pain and suffering.

But the state opposed the request for R1.5 million in constitutional damages.

The Life Esidimeni announcement has been expected for weeks because Moseneke had only 30 days after closing arguments to determine the award.

Families had been calling Nxumalo to ask when the announcement would be made. Some had thought they had missed Moseneke's decision.

"This is about closure‚" said Nxumalo.

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