Life Esidimeni: Gauteng govt, eligible families reach payment agreement

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)

More than 300 family members affected by the Life Esidimeni tragedy will finally receive payment from the Gauteng provincial government after reaching an agreement.

A meeting was held at the Parktonian Hotel in Braamfontein where the government and the families agreed to terms and conditions.

In March, former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke ordered government to pay R1.2m to the families of mentally ill relatives who died when they were illegally moved from the hospital to ill-equipped facilities in 2016.

In September, the DA claimed that 200 new compensation claims had been lodged by the families of affected patients. The DA's MPL Jack Bloom said payouts to 200 claimants would cost about R236m and added that so far, R159m had been paid to claimants. This meant that the total amount that would be paid, including other expenses, would be more than R400m.

"It's a steep but necessary cost to provide redress," he said.

The family members recently marched to the office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura and the ANC's headquarters, Luthuli House, demanding that payments be made.

READ: Ramokgopa appeals for help to find 21 missing Life Esidimeni patients

Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said that the agreement entailed, among other things, "that the Office of the Premier check all claims received and establish if they fall within the terms of reference agreed to by the parties before the arbitration proceedings chaired by Moseneke".

"The families will have to choose one or more members to be appointed by the Master of the High Court as administrators in respect of claims made on behalf of surviving mental healthcare users or executors in respect of claims made on behalf of deceased mental healthcare users," Masebe said.

READ MORE: Esidimeni tragedy was a failure of the duty of care

Masebe added that the Gauteng government would also assist the families to obtain medical reports of the mental healthcare users on whose behalf claims were being lodged.

Once the Master of the High Court has issued the letter confirming the appointment of the administrators or executors, it is then expected that the Office of the Premier will initiate the payment process. 

ALSO READ: Moseneke orders government to pay #LifeEsidimeni claimants in excess of R1m each

"The full amount of money, in accordance with Justice Moseneke's award, will be paid to the bank account provided by the claimants", Masebe said.

This recent agreement comes after the families consulted their legal advisors earlier in December, after the government failed to process their payments.

Earlier this year, Makhura promised that families of those who died in the tragedy would receive their settlements before the June 19 deadline.

At the time, Section 27 - whose lawyers represented the families during the arbitrations - said not all the claimants of the arbitration had received their money, but added that it had no reason to be apprehensive.

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