JOHANNESBURG, 6 October 2017 – It is almost two years to the day since the termination of the contract with Life Esidimeni was announced, setting in motion a tragedy which led to the deaths of more than 100 mental health care users. Monday sees the commencement of an arbitration led by retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and designed to provide information, redress and closure to the affected mental health care users and their families.
Date: Monday, 9 October 2017
Place: Emoyeni Conference Centre, Johannesburg
The hearings are open to the public and the media.
SECTION27 has been representing affected families and mental health organisations on the Life Esidimeni matter since November 2015 and is representing 53 bereaved families in the arbitration.
Over the next three weeks, family members will relay what happened to their loved ones to the Arbitrator, government and the public. Government will be called on to offer an explanation for what took place, to provide information, and finally, to apologise.
The Health Ombud’s report, released on 1 February 2017, painted a harrowing picture of negligence (at best) and resultant suffering and death. The Ombud found that the Gauteng Health Department acted in clear violation of its own well-articulated mental health policy and that:
“a ‘high level decision’ to terminate the LE contract precipitously was taken, followed by a ‘programme of action’ with disastrous outcomes/consequences including the deaths of Assisted MCHUs. Evidence identified three key players in the project: MEC Qedani Dorothy Mahlangu, Head of Department (HoD) Dr. Tiego Ephraim Selebano and Director Dr. Makgabo Manamela. Their fingerprints are ‘peppered’ throughout the project.”
One of the Ombud’s recommendations was that an alternative dispute resolution process be established to “determine the way forward such as mechanisms of redress and compensation” The arbitration is intended to fulfill this purpose.
Government, through Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has accepted its liability for the suffering and deaths. The arbitration will be an important step in assisting families and mental health care users in finding the truth, closure, and redress.
For more information, please contact:
Nomatter Ndebele, SECTION27:
072 919 2752