20 March 2018

South Africa: Life Esidimeni Families - How Shared, Collective Pain Created a Community

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Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke delivered a historic ruling at the Life Esidimeni Arbitration on Monday, awarding relatives of those who died R1.2-million in compensation. The arbitration was devastating and healing for relatives of those who died, but justice won't be done until the culprits are charged. By GREG NICOLSON.

You have to sign in when you arrive at the Emoyeni Conference Centre, the home of the Life Esidimeni Arbitration since October. You receive a tag: Legal Representative, Family, Attendee, Media. The lawyers sit in the front and family members group behind them, to the right, as a unit.

On Monday morning, before Moseneke presided over the arbitration's final day, family members greeted each other with smiles. They saved each other seats and helped an elderly woman who needed a certain spot to best hear the translator. Tissues were passed when someone started crying, while Moseneke mentioned how patients were restrained as they were transported from Life Esidimeni.

Those with family member tags were either relatives of the 144 people who died after the Gauteng government moved around 1,500 psychiatric patients out of Life Esidimeni in 2016, or relatives of those who survived. They sat through the arbitration for...

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