Civil society group Section 27 representative advocate Adila Hassim at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings. Picture: ANA

Johannesburg - Civil society group Section 27 representative advocate Adila Hassim told the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings into the deaths of 140 mentally ill patients, that the families of the deceased are asking for R1.5 million as part of the constitutional damages redress.

"If the marathon project had not taken place, this is how much would've been spent on the patients."

Hassim was arguing on Thursday, in a bid to influence the outcome of the remedies retired chief justice Dikgang Moseneke will recommend at the end of the arbitration.

"There’s no manual for calculating the monetary value of a life and the trauma the family has endured. This is the amount how much government would have spent on the patients if the mental health project didn’t happen," she said. 

Read more: Families of #LifeEsidimeni victims to get R200K

Moseneke said he was concerned that using actuary formula in this matter, may put a price tag on a human life. 

Hassim said the figure was not intended to represent the value of life, but rather takes into account the series of circumstances and breach of rights, including the ongoing disregard of attempts by the families to remedy the situation. 

"There is no exact science. This figure doesn’t bind the arbitrator," she added. 

Earlier, Section 27 and Solidarity reached an agreement with the State that the families will be compensated with R200 000 for common law damages. 

Hassim said the R180 000 was intended for emotional shock and psychological injury, and counselling services while the R20 000 is for funeral expenses. 

However, Moseneke said the final amount is still to be awarded.

"The amounts mentioned today are just suggestions," he said. 

The hearing continues.

African News Agency/ANA