Family members sing struggle songs outside the arbitration room at the Life Esidimeni Arbitration hearings in Parktown, Johannesburg. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/THE TIMES
Family members sing struggle songs outside the arbitration room at the Life Esidimeni Arbitration hearings in Parktown, Johannesburg. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/THE TIMES

The Gauteng executive council said on Wednesday that it had settled the multimillion-rand financial claim linked to the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke earlier in 2018 called on the government to compensate the families of the victims who died in the tragedy. That compensation has now been paid.

"The office of the premier paid a total sum of R159.46m to all the 134 claimants who were part of the alternative dispute resolution process. All payments were concluded by June 13 2018‚ ahead of the deadline of June 19 2018 set by Justice Moseneke‚" the office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura said.

Moseneke’s probe into the Esidimeni tragedy concluded that the rights of mentally ill patients and their families were flagrantly violated and disregarded during the debacle.

He slammed former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu‚ saying that her plea of ignorance was untrue.

"All the facts here point to cruelty‚" he said on the final day of arbitration hearings into the tragedy‚ in which he said victims and their families had to be financially compensated.

He ruled that families of the mental health patients treated cruelly by the government should each receive payments of R20‚000 for their funeral expenses‚ R180‚000 for shock and psychological trauma and R1m in constitutional damages.

Moseneke said that although arbitration was unusual‚ it was intended to give closure to the families and a chance to mourn and grieve.

Mentally ill and vulnerable patients were stripped of their dignity‚ subjected to "torture" at ill-equipped nongovernment organisations and abandoned by arrogant provincial health authorities who abused their power and lied about the scale of the catastrophe‚ he said.

At least 144 mental health patients died after 1‚711 of them were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities into ill-equipped and underfunded NGOs in 2016 in Gauteng.

There were conflicting accounts during the hearings as to why the patients were moved in the first place.

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