JOHANNESBURG – While it is a relief that the funds have been found to pay the financial redress for the Life Esidimeni victims, it is unfortunate that it has been diverted from funds needed for service delivery, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.
“The funds to pay the R160.64 million arbitration award to 135 families of Life Esidimeni [psychiatric] patients who suffered and died will come proportionately from all provincial government departments,” DA Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom said.
This was according to statements made by Gauteng director general Phindile Baleni at a meeting on Friday last week of the oversight committee on the premier’s office in the Gauteng legislature, Bloom said.
“She said that the National Treasury will not provide any funds for this and the money will be taken from the budgets of the provincial departments. The national health department has been asked to assist, but this does not seem likely as they already paid R6 million for the relocation of Esidimeni patients from unsuitable NGOs to proper treatment centres. The deadline set by [arbitration hearing chairperson] Justice Dikgang Moseneke for the payments is 19 June.
“I am relieved that the money has been found to pay the financial redress for Esidimeni victims, but it is unfortunate that it has been diverted from funds that are needed for service delivery. It’s the price that has to paid for the inexcusable arrogance and negligence that lead to the deaths of 144 patients in the Esidimeni disaster,” Bloom added.