Tue, 18 May 2021

Life Esidimeni inquest hearing set for July

News24
20 Apr 2021, 04:11 GMT+10

  • The Life Esidimeni formal inquest hearing is set to begin on 19 July.
  • The tragedy saw 144 psychiatric patients die.
  • Gauteng DPP, Advocate George Baloyi referred the docket for a formal inquest in September.

The Life Esidimeni formal inquest hearing will start on 19 July at the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

"This was determined in a meeting held earlier today by Judge Teffo, the National Prosecuting Authority, representatives for the families, NGOs and, legal defence representatives," National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson, DPP Pretoria, Lumka Mahanjana, said in a brief statement on Monday.

Mahanjana said the judge requested all involved parties to be ready.

READ | Four years on, a joint hearing into Life Esidimeni deaths is set to be conducted

News24 earlier reported that in February, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola acceded to a request by the NPA that a joint hearing be conducted into the Life Esidimeni incident.

He requested that Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo designate a judge to preside over an inquest in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

The minister's action came after the acting director of public prosecutions in Gauteng, Advocate George Baloyi, referred the docket for a formal inquest in September, more than three years after the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

The tragedy saw 144 psychiatric patients die, many allegedly of starvation and neglect, after the Gauteng Department of Health canceled its contract with Life Esidimeni to save money.

Patients

This resulted in the transferring of thousands of patients out of the facility into NGOs that were found to be not suitable.

Investigators were unable to gather enough evidence to bring charges against anyone linked to the deaths in 144 cases it probed, News24 reported.

An inquiry that concluded in March 2018, led by retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke into the tragedy, 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 received 144 dockets in April 2017 that four advocates and investigators monitored; however, the process revealed that the evidence at their disposal was not enough to prove causation of death nor is it enough to help us link the actions of different role players to the eventual deaths.

"The state therefore correctly sets out the legal principles applicable to the problem and upon a thorough assessment of all the available facts and circumstances; came to a conclusion that the matter be referred for a formal inquest," Mjonondwane previously said.

Source: News24

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