Only R6.5m of budgeted R120m has been paid to Life Esidimeni victims
The DA in Gauteng said it was “a sad situation” that there were still unresolved compensation issues for Life Esidimeni victims and their families.
DA shadow MEC for health Jack Bloom said the premier's office had revealed on Thursday that only R6.5m of the R120m budgeted for compensation to Life Esidimeni victims and their families has been paid out so far this year.
In March 2018, retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke ordered the government to pay damages to the families of deceased mental health-care users.
In 2016, 144 patients died after being transferred from Life Esidmineni health-care facilities to NGOs after the end of the contract between the Gauteng and the hospital group.
Life Esidimeni provided highly-specialised chronic care to about 2,000 mental health patients.
Some of these NGOs were not licensed properly, and lacked the facilities to take proper care of patients.
In the presentation to the Gauteng Legislature’s oversight committee on the premier’s office and legislature, the premier's office also revealed that 81 of the 352 claimants had not been paid at all.
Bloom said according to the premier’s office, the underspending was due to lockdown restrictions which resulted in delays in the verification process of claimants.
“There were 451 claims received, of which 352 were verified, but 81 of these claimants have still not been paid,” Bloom said.
Director-general in the Gauteng premier's office Phindile Baleni informed the committee that the remainder of the R120m budget will be spent in December and January when a trust fund is set up by the master of the court to administer 50% of the payout that is earmarked for the patients.
The remaining 50% is scheduled to be paid directly into the accounts of families of the patients.
“A complicating factor is that aggrieved family members are going to court next week to ensure that their own lawyers administer the trust as they mistrust the lawyers that the provincial government will appoint.
“It’s a sad situation that there are still unresolved compensation issues in this tragic matter in which so many people suffered because of government neglect,” Bloom said.