Life Esidimeni Families To Receive R1.2 Million In Compensation

Family members of the Life Esidimeni victims will receive R1.2 million in equitable financial compensation, the Arbitration led by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke announced on Monday.

The R1.2 million will cover funeral costs (set at R20 000), compensation for shock and psychological trauma (R180 000), and R1 million for the government’s multiple constitutional and legislation violations in the unfolding of the tragedy.

This amount, Moseneke said, must be paid within three months of the publication of the report or 19 June 2018. He also ordered government to provide immediate assessment for counselling to the affected families, and provide counselling within one month to those who need it. The report also finds that government must erect a monument within 12 months of publication “to serve as a reminder of the human dignity of mental health users.”

The judge also announced that he will be donating his arbitration fees to selected law schools to train future lawyers.

In 2016, the Gauteng department of health canceled a contract with the NGO Life Esidimeni and moved 1 782 psychiatric patients patients. This resulted in the deaths of 144 people in the care of 27 unregistered, non-compliant NGOs.

Solidarity, Legal Aid South Africa and Section27 worked with families to help them receive compensation.

Life Esidimeni: More Than Money, We Need Proper Mental Health Care

Moseneke began reading the report saying: “This is the harrowing story of the death and torture of mental health users, it is also a story of the public anguish of the families”.

He said it was after their move that 144 mentally care users died and others were exposed to trauma, but survived. He said the whereabouts of 44 of the mental healthcare users were still unknown.

Life Esidimeni: The forgotten people of South Africa’s healthcare system

The first set of claimants who are working with Section27 are family members of 74 of the deceased seeked compensation of R20 000 for funeral and counseling, and R1.5 million for constitutional damages.

The second set of claimants are families of four patients who died, represented by Solidarity.

Moseneke says that the last category of claimants are mental health users who survived, the are represented by Legal Aid South Africa.

“My brother would still be around if Life Esidimeni didn’t close down”

Moseneke said the money the department said they said they saved by ending their contract with Life Esidimeni didn’t follow the mental healthcare users. Neither the users nor the places they were sent to were properly prepared.

He concluded that former head of department Dr Barney Selebano and former chief director for mental health Dr Makgabo Manamela falsely pleaded ignorance when it comes to the number of people dead.

Featured image via Section 27 on Twitter