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Esidimeni: Families must be compensated for trauma, not constitutional damage

Government and the families reached a settlement on Thursday which will see each family receive R200,000 each in compensation.

FILE: Family members of the Life Esidimeni tragedy victims testify during arbitration hearings on 16 November 2017. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - State lawyers at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings have spent Friday morning arguing that families of those who died during the disastrous transfer project should not be compensated for constitutional damages but for the trauma and pain they suffered.

Government and the families reached a settlement on Thursday which will see each family receive R200,000 each in compensation.

One thousand seven hundred mentally ill patients were moved from Esidimeni facilities to unregistered NGOs.

The project resulted in the deaths of 144 patients, with 55 still unaccounted for.

The state's argument against the compensation of families of the deceased patients has left retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke baffled and angered the families.

States advocate Tebogo Hutamo said: “The wrong should be in relation to the family members.”

Moseneke told Hutamo the law cannot ignore the constitutional rights of those who died.

“In either case, whether they are diseased or they are in hospitals, it’s the families who are acting for and on behalf of the claimants.”

The hearings will continue throughout Friday.