Gauteng premier must instruct Qedani Mahlangu to pay Life Esidimeni families from her own pocket - DA

The Democratic Alliance has sent letters to Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, demanding that those implicated in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, including former MEC Qedani Mahlangu, pay a share of the arbitration awarded to the relatives of the deceased.

The DA’s Gauteng health spokesperson, Jack Bloom, said he had requested that Makhura and Ramokgopa instruct former Gauteng Health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, former head of the Gauteng health department Dr Barney Selebano and former Chief Director of Mental Health Dr Makgabo Manamela to pay a share of the R159m awarded to relatives of the Life Esidimeni victims.

Bloom said that Mahlangu, Selebano and Manamela were jointly responsible, and under the Apportionment of Damages Act 34 of 1956, they should be held liable.

"Last month, the provincial government paid R159.46m to 134 claimants in terms of the arbitration award by Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who awarded each claimant R1m for the loss of life, R20 000 to cover funerals and R180 000 for trauma and psychological distress," Bloom said.

"This money has come from the budgets of provincial government departments, which adversely affects service delivery."

He said the DA believed taxpayers should not have "to pay for the egregious misconduct of government officials" and, therefore, the three should pay from their own pockets.

"The DA has given government 60 days to take legal action against Mahlangu, Selebano and Maluleke to pay a fair share of the R159.46m compensation amount," he said.

"The ANC should not continue to protect Qedani Mahlangu who is still a member of the ANC Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee."

"We insist that Mahlangu and senior officials pay directly for their willful criminality that resulted in enormous suffering to vulnerable people and 144 deaths," Bloom said.

However, Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said they had done exactly what health ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba had recommended in his report and had complied with Moseneke’s findings.

"We have done everything as recommended by the health ombudsman and Justice Moseneke’s recommendations," he said.

"With respect to the payments of the claims, it was the Gauteng government that was ordered to pay. No individuals were ordered to pay," Masebe said.

"Neither Makgoba or Moseneke said anything about individuals having to pay anything."

Masebe said the police and other law enforcement agencies were investigating what they were instructed to investigate and the province would leave it to them to do so.

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