EFF demands 'update' on Life Esidimeni claims, but dept says they've been paid out

Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown in Johannesburg. (File, Gallo Images)
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown in Johannesburg. (File, Gallo Images)

The EFF has issued a statement demanding an "update" on the implementation of Life Esidimeni arbitration awards and orders issued by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

This followed the conclusion of public hearings on March 19 in Parktown, Johannesburg.

At least 144 psychiatric patients died in 2016 after the Gauteng Department of Health moved 1 700 mentally ill people from Life Esidimeni homes into ill-equipped NGOs and state facilities.

In March, Moseneke ruled that R1m be paid to each claimant for constitutional damages, R180 000 for emotional trauma, and R20 000 funeral expenses for those who died.

On Wednesday, the EFF in the Gauteng legislature issued a statement demanding a status update.

'Process long been completed'

However, a department official told News24 that the process has long been completed.

The party said it wrote a letter on October 29 to the MEC for health, copied to Gauteng Premier David Makhura, "requesting progress on the implementation of Life Esidimeni arbitration awards and orders issued by [Moseneke]".

"The EFF requested the MEC to provide feedback and an update specifically to determine exact progress made with compliance with all the orders issued, which were meant to have been complied with four months prior to penning the letter. As a concerned and affected party representing affected constituencies, the EFF has the full right to be informed about progress."

The EFF then requested confirmation that the monies as specified had been paid out and whether several officials found liable had been charged as ordered.

"To date the MEC has never responded to the letter nor requested a meeting to clarify to the EFF any progress in relation to complying with the awards.

"The Office of the Premier has not responded either; despite the fact that these orders are binding on the Gauteng provincial government.

'No justice'

"Indeed there is no justice in the excessive delays that are devoid of any explanation and by default, accountability," the EFF claims.

"It is clear that the Gauteng Department of Health never had any intention to abide by the orders made by [Moseneke]," it continues.

But according to deputy director general of provincial communication services, Thabo Masebe, Moseneke's orders had been carried out in full within the required time frame.

"All the claims have been paid out," Masebe told News24 on Wednesday. "There were 134 people who had made claims before Justice Moseneke at the arbitration proceedings. On March 19, he ordered government to pay compensation to all the claimants by June 19. That was fully complied with."

Masebe said he didn't know why the EFF would be demanding a reply to a letter on an issue that has already been resolved.

New claims

Masebe said that Moseneke was aware of more families that had not attended the arbitration proceedings and had therefore not made any claims for financial compensation. "If they approached government with the intention to claim, these claims will be treated in the same manner as those awarded after the arbitration process.

According to Masebe, there have since been claimants who had approached the government and verification processes have already started. "But these are new claims, these are not covered by Justice Moseneke's original order."

The EFF also demanded to know whether the department had reported Dr Tiego Ephraim Selebano, Dr Makgabo Manamela, Mrs Dumi Masondo and Ms Hannah Jacobus to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the South African Nursing Council as ordered. The party wanted to know whether criminal charges or other punitive actions had been taken against these former officials to claim damages.

Masebe said those liable had been reported to the relevant authorities, including the police.

"So, all those processes are continuing and government is not necessarily involved in all those processes as far as criminal charges are concerned – those are matters being dealt with by the police and the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority)."

ALSO READ: Life Esidimeni relatives march to Makhura and Luthuli House to demand payments

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