by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
The Democratic Alliance is considering legal options to ensure that former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and senior health officials are forced to pay from their own money for the Life Esidimeni compensation costs.
This follows the failure of the Gauteng Provincial Government to respond within 60 days to the letter I wrote on 16 July to Premier David Makhura and Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa to demand that they pursue legal action against those implicated in the Esidimeni tragedy so that they personally pay a share of the R159 million arbitration award to relatives of those who suffered and died.
My letter noted that there is some urgency in this matter as action in terms of the Apportionment of Damages Act needs to take place within one year. I submitted that a period of 60 days was adequate time to take legal advice as Government may see fit to commence proceedings in this matter, but I have not received any written response.
The Act provides that a party that has been found liable in a civil claim, and has paid this claim in full, can act to recover from those who were also allegedly liable (the “joint wrongdoers”) to recover a contribution for their fair share of what has been paid.
In this instance, the “joint wrongdoers” include former Gauteng Health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, former Gauteng Head of Department for Health, Dr Barney Selebano and former Chief Director Mental Health, Dr Makgabo Manamela.
Premier Makhura said in an oral reply to my questions on 4 September that he was still consulting with stakeholders and legal advisers in this matter, but it seems to me that he is not giving it the priority that it deserves.
Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for woeful government conduct which led to the Esidimeni tragedy.
If the government continues to stall in this matter, the legal remedy would be to take steps to review the failure to take the appropriate action and/or compel government to do so.
We will continue to push the provincial government in various ways to ensure that Mahlangu and the implicated officials pay a fair share of the money that has been paid to the Esidimeni victims.