144 dead, 1‚400 'tortured', R162m in damages, Esidimeni officials still free

19 March 2018 - 15:16 By Kgaugelo Masweneng And Katharine Child
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.
Image: Alaister Russell

As 67 families of the victims of the Life Esidimeni tragedy are awarded R1.2-million each‚ the officials behind the tragedy remain free.

Journalists asked Gauteng Premier David Makhura if he will pursue criminal charges for those implicated as having been behind the move that left 144 patients dead and 1‚400 experiencing “torture” at NGOs.

The senior officials are former director of mental health Makgabo Manamela‚ former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and former head of department Barney Selebano.

Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke announced his judgment on the Life Esidimeni victims on Monday March 19 2018, awarding the families R1.2-million each.

Premier David Makhura said only that criminal investigations were ongoing.

"There should be no stone that must be left unattended to‚" Makhura said.

All three officials have resigned.

The Gauteng provincial government funded the hearings that cost millions and will pay the damages.

Makhura said that government would implement Moseneke’s order without delay.

"There is no amount of money that can compensate for loss of life. We will implement everything‚" said Makhura.

Survivors and families of those who died were awarded R1-million in constitutional damages and R200‚000 in damages for emotional suffering and funeral expenses.

There were 68 survivors and 67 families of those who had died meaning government will pay R162-million in awards before paying for counselling and an appropriate monument.

Moseneke urged government to treat the family members of those who died‚ who were not part of the process‚ in the same way if they come forward for compensation.

The premier‚ who tried to hug families afterwards in view of the cameras‚ vowed to continue working with the families to ensure they continue to offer them a sense of closure.

"We will walk with them all the way."

Christine Nxumalo‚ who forms part of the committee representing the families of the victims‚ called for criminal charges.

There's no reason why there shouldn't be criminal charges‚" said Nxumalo.

She said that the fight for justice was not over.

"This was only a half way milestone for us. We were right all along‚ we did not actually make these things up. They really did happen‚" she said.