Section27 says not all the claimants of the Life Esidimeni arbitration have received their money, but it has no reason to be apprehensive that the Gauteng government has not made the payments. "I believe that the Gauteng (Health) Department has made payments and I have no reason to doubt that," Section27's Mark Heywood is quoted in a Polity report as saying.
The Gauteng government said last week that it has paid out R159,460,000 to the claimants of the Life Esidimeni arbitration.
The report says all financial claims have been settled in compliance with the award given by retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke following the alternative dispute resolution process entered into with the families affected by the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
At least 144 psychiatric patients died after the Gauteng Health Department moved 1,700 psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni homes into ill-equipped NGOs and state facilities in 2016.
"Government will, under the leadership of the Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Gauteng Premier David Makhura continue to implement measures in compliance with the Health Ombud's recommendations and (retired deputy chief justice) Moseneke's award," provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said.
The report says Moseneke ruled on 19 March that R1m be paid to each claimant for constitutional damages, R180 000 for emotional trauma and R20 000 for funeral expenses for those who died by 19 June.
In the release of his arbitration report, he slammed government, particularly former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, former Gauteng Health Department head Barney Selebano and former Gauteng director of mental health Makgabo Manamela, for the manner in which they handled the project.
Democratic Alliance (DA) member of the provincial legislature Jack Bloom said that the party welcomed the government's pay-out to the claimants. "I am pleased that the provincial government has met this commitment which provides financial redress to the relatives of those who suffered and died in the Esidimeni tragedy," Bloom said. Money was sourced from the budgets of all the provincial government departments, he added.
The Gauteng Executive Council had announced earlier that it had settled the multi-million-rand financial claim linked to the tragedy, reports The Times.
"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 13 June 2018‚ ahead of the deadline of 19 June 2018 set by Justice Moseneke‚" the office of Gauteng Premier David Makhura said.
Meanwhile, News24 reports that more than a year after the ANC in Gauteng announced that Mahlangu would face the party's integrity commission for her role in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, the process is yet to be concluded.
The ANC announced in February 2017 that Mahlangu would be hauled before the commission after the Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba announced that more than 100 psychiatric patients died when they were transferred from Life Esidimeni to unlicensed NGOs.
The ANC again said she would face "internal accountability within the party" in March this year after Moseneke’s damning finding that the decision to move the psychiatric patients was "irrational and unconstitutional".
The report says Makhura has defended the 14-month long wait for the commission to conclude its work. "ANC processes are still underway," he said.
The ANC in Gauteng has been praised for establishing the integrity commission long before the national body resolved to do so. The commission was established to allow the ANC to act against members who damage the party's integrity, without waiting for the conclusion of criminal investigations.
When asked why there have been no consequences against Mahlangu yet, in what is seen as the worst tragedy in democratic South Africa, Makhura said: "We have never dodged issues in this province."
The report says Mahlangu remains a member of the provincial executive committee (PEC), which is the highest decision-making body in the party's Gauteng branch.
The ANC in the province confirmed the case was still being processed. "Just like the provincial disciplinary committee, the PEC does not pressurise or dictate to the integrity committee how and when to deal with matters referred to them. Once they complete any matter they will announce the outcome," provincial spokesperson Motaletale Modiba said.
Makhura said Mahlangu had led a "suicide mission" and he had since put systems in place to ensure that something as "disastrous" as the tragedy did not happen again. He said the lessons learnt included that he must have systems in place across all departments to ensure that he knows about all major decisions. He now holds standing meetings with MECs and heads of departments, making him even more hands on, including on issues that were previously delegated to MECs and heads of department. Makhura said some MECs felt that he was not giving them space to do their work but he has assured them it is for "their own good".
"Now when something happens in their department they will be able to say the premier knew about it because we brought it to him in our six-week cycle meeting and this is the feedback he gave us," he said.
The report says Makhura has faced calls to step down over the Life Esidimeni tragedy as he was the premier in charge when it happened. "I accept that holding public office comes with responsibility and officials must be held accountable. It's not a vendetta against me. Those who criticise me are making me a better person," he said.
[link url="http://www.polity.org.za/article/we-have-no-reason-to-doubt-gauteng-government—section-27-on-life-esidimeni-payments-2018-06-14"]Polity report[/link]
[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-06-13-the-r159-million-life-esidimeni-bill-has-been-paid/"]The Times report[/link]
[link url="https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/anc-still-no-consequences-for-qedani-mahlangu-over-life-esidimeni-20180616"]News24 report[/link]