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Gauteng govt can't hold former officials personally liable for Esidimeni tragedy

The department will not be taking legal action against the officials but will rather await the outcomes of a police investigation that is currently underway.

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Gauteng provincial government says that it cannot hold former government officials implicated in the Esidimeni tragedy personally liable for compensation costs.

Over the weekend it emerged that the provincial government won’t be ordering former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and other senior officials to personally contribute towards the almost R160 million paid to relatives of those who suffered or died.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) had lobbied for officials to be held liable after they were directly implicated in the tragedy that claimed the lives of more than 140 psychiatric patients.

Earlier this year, the DA in Gauteng had given the provincial government 60 days to take legal action against Mahlangu over the life Esidimeni tragedy.

The party had also requested that taxpayers’ money not be used to cover the cost of compensation.

It wanted those found responsible for the disaster to pay from their own pockets.

But Gauteng government's Thabo Masebe says this is contrary to former deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke's order.

“In that order, there was no instruction for any individual to make a financial payment. It was the government that was ordered to pay.”

Masebe says the department will not be taking legal action against the officials but will rather await the outcome of a police investigation that is currently underway.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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