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Moseneke likens treatment of Esidimeni patients to slave trade

The families of loved ones who died have been awarded R200,000 each, with an additional R180,000 in damages for emotional trauma.

FILE: Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke has likened the way psychiatric patients were treated and transported from Life Esidimeni facilities to the slave trade.

Moseneke presided over an arbitration hearing which probed the death of more than 140 people in the chaotic process.

The families of loved ones who died have been awarded R200,000 each, with an additional R180,000 in damages for emotional trauma.

More than 1,700 patients were moved from Esidimeni facilities to ill-equipped NGOs by the Gauteng Health Department.

Section 27 lawyer Adila Hassim, who represents the families of at least 60 patients who died, recounted the horrific ways in which the victims were transported to the NGOs.

“Mental health-care users were left unattended outside Life Esidimeni. In at least one incident, an NGO arrived to collect the patients in a bakkie. The picking of patients was evident through the testimony of Dr Mkhatshwa.”

Moseneke added a few thoughts on this matter.

"[It's] almost reminiscent of slavery. 'I'll have this one, not that one. That one looks fitter than that one.'"

Some of the patients were tied by their limbs with sheets when they were being transferred to the NGOs.

The state has reached an agreement with the families of those who died to compensate each complainant with R200,000 for common law damages.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)