Esidimeni families still awaiting compensation from government

Family members of dead Esidimeni patients protest outside the venue of the hearings in Parktown. The families are yet to receive their R1.2-million in compensation from government.
Family members of dead Esidimeni patients protest outside the venue of the hearings in Parktown. The families are yet to receive their R1.2-million in compensation from government.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Families of Life Esidimeni victims are still waiting for compensation from the Gauteng government‚ a provincial legislator revealed on Tuesday.

"The Gauteng Provincial Government has not yet made payments to the families of the Life Esidimeni patients who suffered and died‚ even though Justice Dikgang Moseneke set 19 June as the deadline for his arbitration award‚ which is only three weeks away‚" DA MPL Jack Bloom said in a statement.

"This is revealed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature."

Makhura said the process was under way and that officials were verifying the banking details of beneficiaries. He said the government would meet the deadline.

Bloom said he was concerned about the source of the funding‚ which he estimated could easily top R160.64 million‚ taking into account new claimants.

"It is unclear where the money will be found to pay for this as Makhura says that 'The Provincial Executive Council (Exco) is finalising all consultations with national department of Health on this matter and an update report will be given to the legislature in due course.'"

Bloom said the Esidimeni compensation should not be paid by the "hard-pressed budget of the Gauteng Health Department which is struggling to provide a decent health service."

"It seems that Makhura is trying to get the National Treasury to assist in paying the rising costs of the Esidimeni tragedy that he could have avoided had he listened to all the warnings‚" Bloom said.

More than 140 psychiatric patients died after 1 711 mentally ill people were moved from Life Esidimeni homes into ill-equipped and underfunded NGOs in 2016 in Gauteng.

Moseneke ruled in March that survivors and families of those who had died should be awarded R1-million in constitutional damages and R200 000 in damages for emotional suffering and funeral expenses.

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