The Gauteng Provincial Government has suffered a crisis of credibility over the deaths of 94 mental health patients and needs to appoint someone of high stature to get redress and compensation for the relatives.
Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba has recommended that the National Health Minister and the Gauteng Premier contact all affected individuals and families and enter into an Alternative Dispute Resolution process.
Makgoba says: “the response must include an unconditional apology to families and relatives of deceased and live patients who were subjected to this avoidable trauma; and as a result of the emotional and psychological trauma the relatives have endured, psychological counselling and support must be provided immediately.”
He also recommends: “The outcome of such process should determine the way forward such as mechanisms of redress and compensation. A credible prominent South African with an established track record should lead such a process.”
The Democratic Alliance supports this approach which avoids long-drawn-out legal proceedings as has occurred with the Marikana deaths.
It could also be a more satisfactory and speedy alternative to a class action law suit.
We believe that former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela has the necessary moral authority and support to ensure that there is a fair settlement for the relatives that includes financial compensation, while bearing in mind that no amount of money can recompense for the loss of a loved one.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Premier David Makhura should approach Adv Madonsela as their top choice for this purpose.
We hope that she can spare some time from her current sabbatical at Harvard University, otherwise someone else with a similar reputation for integrity and independence should be appointed.