[LISTEN] Experiences from Life Esidimeni arbitration

Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke delivered his final report on Monday, after the Life Esidimeni hearings where he ordered the Gauteng government to pay R 1.2 million in common law and Constitutional damages to the Life Esidimeni families.

Bongani Bingwa spoke to EWN reporter Masego Rahlaga who covered the Life Esidimeni arbitration and Section 27 Mark Heywood.

Heywood says the arbitration has created a level of accountability for government officials.

I'm still making sense of what this arbitration meant and what it's outcome meant but I think this is a marvelous vindication of rights of access to justice in a certain sense. I hope its the beginning of something new, I hope it might be a form of justice in many many other instances where there are violations rights of state failure.

Mark Heywood, Section 27

Heywood says as Section 27 Life Esidimeni for them started in 2015 when they were approached by the South African Depression and Anxiety and alerted them about plans to close life Esidimeni.

When we started we didn't go in with a club, we went in trying to speak to Qedani Mahlangu and senior officials and not trying to speak to them on behalf of the families and patients but saying how can we work together.

Mark Heywood, Section 27

Sadag pulled psychiatrists, psychologists, offered to help with consultations, implementations of a proper programme of institutionalisation into communities.

Mark Heywood, Section 27

EWN reporter Masego Rahlaga says there is a fine line between being a journalist and containing your human feeling when covering such stories. Rahlaga became close with the families because of the roller coaster feelings they have been though together.

There is a fine line between a journalist and trying to tell the stories of those who are not heard and just being human.

Masego Rahlaga, EWN Reporter

Rahlaga says covering the arbitration showed that in government you can get away with almost anything.

She says it showed that there are a lot of issues that need to be fixed in government.

Rahlanga further says Justice Moseneke sometimes lost it during the arbitration because the witnesses could not answer why the patients were moved.

It showed that in government you can literally do anything and you can get away with it unless somebody like Section 27 and SADAG speak out.

Masego Rahlaga, EWN Reporter

Life Esidimeni family committee member Andrew Pietersen say the process was painful and frustrating because they never got answers from officials.

Pietersen's uncle is one of the survivors of the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

Listen to how Pietersen's uncle is coping...


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