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Families of Esidimeni victims 'hopeful' as NPA holds formal inquest

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced on Wednesday that it will hold a formal inquest into the tragedy after receiving dockets to build up a case.

FILE: Patients at the Takalani Home for the mentally disabled in Soweto. It was one of the institutions affected during the Life Esidimeni tragedy. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Families of the victims who died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy said they hoped the latest legal action that aimed to unravel the truth behind the deaths would be fruitful.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced on Wednesday that it will hold a formal inquest into the tragedy after receiving dockets to build up a case.

The NPA said it was not ready to present the matter before the court due to a lack of evidence.

Christine Nxumalo from the Life Esidimeni family committee said they had been pressing the NPA to act for some time now.

“This is something that should’ve happened a long time ago. At least they’re not giving up and saying there’s nothing they can do, that’s the only hope we’re clinging on in the process.”

Over 140 mentally ill patients died after the Gauteng Department of Health decided to remove them from proper medical care centres in 2016.

The commission of inquiry into the tragedy last year found that government officials "acted in breach of the law and the Constitution" when they ended the Life Esidimeni contract and moved patients to NGOs without due regard for their wellbeing and state of health.

The NPA said it received 144 enquiry dockets regarding the Life Esidimeni tragedy in April 2017 and the acting director of public prosecutions Advocate George Baloyi assigned a team of four experienced advocates to work closely with the investigators in collecting more information to build a solid case.

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