200 new claims from Life Esidimeni families: DA

File image of family members of deceased Esidimeni patients protesting outside the venue of the hearings in Parktown.
File image of family members of deceased Esidimeni patients protesting outside the venue of the hearings in Parktown.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The DA claims the Gauteng provincial government has received 200 new claims for compensation from families of Life Esidimeni patients.

DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said in a statement on Sunday that the new claims were revealed by Thomas Masebe‚ the premier’s spokesperson‚ at a meeting last week of the Gauteng Legislature’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature.

Masebe reportedly said most of these claims had been verified and would be covered by the arbitration ruling justice Dikgang Moseneke made in March this year.

The hearings were held and the ruling made after at least 144 psychiatric patients died. They died when 1‚711 patients were moved from Life Esidimeni homes into ill-equipped and underfunded NGOs in 2016 in Gauteng.

Moseneke ruled families of the mental patients should each receive R20‚000 for their funeral expenses‚ R180‚000 for shock and psychological trauma and R1m in constitutional damages.

According to Bloom: “Masebe said that one of the ways that this would be funded would be to top-slice all provincial government departments to pay for it‚ done on a proportional basis.”

Bloom added: “It’s a steep but necessary cost to provide redress to those who suffered‚ although it will affect service delivery in the province as money will be redirected from other projects.”

The Gauteng executive council said in June it had settled all claims linked to the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

“The Office of the Premier paid a total sum of R159.46m to all the 134 claimants who were part of the alternative dispute resolution process. All payments were concluded by 13 June 2018‚ ahead of the deadline of 19 June 2018 set by Justice Moseneke‚“ the office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura said at the time.

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