South Africa

Dissatisfaction over payouts to relatives of Life Esidimeni victims

Dissatisfaction over payouts to relatives of Life Esidimeni victims

Johannesburg - Relatives of Life Esidimeni patients who survived the botched transfer to NGOs are dissatisfied that not all compensation claims have been paid and those that have been paid have only received 50 percent of the stipulated amount of R1,180,000, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

"In terms of the Master of the Court process it has been determined that 50 percent (R590 000) should be paid to the relatives and the other 50 percent into a trust to be administered for the benefit of the patient," DA spokesman Jack Bloom said.

About 300 families represented by the Life Esidimeni Tragedy Committee (LETG) accused the Gauteng premier’s office of breaking an agreement with them not to put the money into a trust.

"They say that they should have a role in administering the money, as they have looked after the interests of their loved ones all these years," Bloom said.

Last week Phindile Baleni, director general in the premier’s office, said that R60 million had been paid so far to relatives out of R300 million that had been budgeted. This was slow progress as they had been promised that all payments would be done in December last year.

The LETG was planning on a petition and also to go to the public protector over this issue. They were "suspicious that the money will end up with the hospital groups that currently look after the surviving Esidimeni patients".

"Also aggrieved are those who have been told they won’t be paid even though their relatives died over the period covered by Justice Dikgang Moseneke’s compensation award. I am disappointed at the slow payments and the continuing disputes which could have been avoided with proper consultation and sensitivity."

The premier’s office should engage honestly with the families to resolve all problems speedily so that there was proper recompense for all concerned. "We need to end the continuing nightmare of the Esidimeni tragedy," Bloom said.