Relatives of some of the patients, who died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, outside the Premier's office in Newtown, Johannesburg, on Monday where the Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe addressed them. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency/ANA

JOHANNESBURG - Justice Dikgang Moseneke in his Arbitration Award on 19 March 2018 ordered the government to pay financial compensation to 134 claimants representing mental healthcare users who were affected by the Life Esidimeni tragedy.  

Despite setting a deadline for 19 June 2018 Moseneke noted then that not all families had been part of the arbitration proceedings.

"Not all have joined the process. When they find their voice or way I trust that the government would choose to meet their claim in terms identical to the award than to set up new litigation,” Moseneke told affected families that were not part of the arbitration proceedings.

More affected families indeed approached the government after the award to register their claims, spokesperson for the Gauteng provincial government Thabo Masebe said 

He said that these claims were being subjected to a verification process in terms of the law, including establishing the legal status of the family members who were making the claims on behalf of mental healthcare users. 

"This is important because there are cases where different people have been claiming to have legal standing to receive and be paid compensation."

"In one case, a family friend has lodged a claim and claimed that she has been taking care of the family. 

"Government has undertaken steps to approach the Office of the Master of the High Court to assist families to obtain letters of authority in the case of deceased patient(s) and appointment of administrator in the case of patient who survived. 

"Government is taking all these necessary steps to ensure that authorised persons receive and be paid compensation," Masebe said.

He said that the government had earlier promised the families that it wished to complete the verification process expeditiously so that all claims could be settled by 10 December 2018. 

However, he said that this would no longer be possible because the government was required to ensure that the claimants were issued with letters of authority and that others were appointed as administrators/curators.

The government on Saturday met with the affected families to explain the process. "Government wishes to reassure all claimants that it remains committed to settle the claims as soon as possible subject to all legal requirements having been complied with," it said.    

African News Agency (ANA