Formal inquest into Life Esidimeni deaths set to be begin in High Court today

The inquest hearing, which is expected to last more than a month, will establish whether anyone should be held criminally liable for the deaths.

FILE: Life Esidimeni Waverley Care Centre Hospital in Boksburg. Picture: Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - A formal inquest into the deaths of hundreds of Life Esidimeni psychiatric patients is set to begin in the Pretoria High Court on Monday.

Five years ago, 1,400 mental health patients died due to the negligence at the hands of the Gauteng Health Department when they were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities to ill-equipped and underfunded NGOs.

At least 144 of them died, many in the most wretched of circumstances.

The inquest hearing, which is expected to last more than a month, will establish whether anyone should be held criminally liable for the deaths.

Details of how 144 mentally ill patients died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy will unfold from today.

The inquest hearings will be presided over by Judge Mmonoa Teffo, who will hear the evidence of at least 30 witnesses, including national and provincial government officials who were responsible for making the decisions leading to the deaths.

While the judge is only tasked with making recommendations in this regard, it will ultimately be the decision of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on who will be charged and with what.

The inquest is expected to provide another opportunity for lasting justice but it will also likely be traumatic for the families as they relived the details of their loved ones’ tortured deaths and may learn new horrifying details along the way.

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