Esidimeni victims' families want answers

File: The families of the victims of the Life Esidimeni tragedy are a step closer to finding out what led to the death of their loved ones. Photo: Gallo / Jabu Kumalo

JOHANNESBURG - The families of the victims of the Life Esidimeni tragedy are a step closer to finding out what led to the death of their loved ones.

The arbitration process to find answers and determine compensation kicks off on Monday.

READ: Esidimeni tragedy: Review board officials suspended

Jabule Hlatshwayo, the mother of one of those who passed away in the tragedy, says: “Even dogs were treated better than the way our children were treated. It shows our children were not fed, they were not given water or their medication correctly. They saved money at the expense of our loved ones.”

Hlatshwayo is one of 53 families advocacy group Section 27 is assisting in the arbitration process, led  by retired Judge Dikgang Moseneke.

“They must pay. If it was up to me, each and every family must be paid R30 million, although it won’t bring my child back, although it won’t take away our pain,” says Hlatshwayo. 

WATCH: Families of deceased Esidimeni mentally ill patients cry for justice

But the law may get in the way of what the families are seeking.

According to Tendai Mafuma of Section 27, “Our courts normally don’t give large compensation for general damages because most deceased were in Life Esidimeni facilities  and surviving family members were not reliant on them financially. The common law cannot help us, (we) cannot rely on (a) loss of support claim."

Some families will give oral evidence at the three-week hearings. 

Former Gauteng Health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu is expected to field the families' many unanswered questions. 

 

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