Esidimeni inquest delayed by Covid-19 pandemic

No progress has been made in appointing a Judge to preside over the joint inquest into the deaths of 144 mental health patients who were sent to unsuitable NGOs in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

This is revealed by Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to the information provided by SAPS: “The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services has issued an order in terms of Section 6A(3) and (4) of Inquest Act 58 of 1959 that the Judge President of North Gauteng Division of the High Court appoint a Judge to preside at a joint Inquest to be conducted in the High Court in Pretoria relating to the deaths of mental patients transferred to various NGOs from Life Esidimeni.”

The delay is because “the matter is still in the hands of the Judge President to appoint a Judge” and “The timeline regarding when the matter will be in court cannot be determined at this stage due to Covid-19 pandemic.”

I am disappointed that there are further delays in ensuring justice for the Esidimeni victims and their families. Only three detectives are working on the case and no charges have yet been laid.

Four years have passed since the disastrous transfers of mental health patients led to cruelties and deaths.

It is not clear why a Judge has not yet been appointed to start the inquest process as some courts have been functioning throughout the lockdown.

More progress is needed to punish the perpetrators and bring justice to the victims and their families.

Crafters, musicians, athletes and freelancers yet to receive financial assistance from the Gauteng Department of SACR

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR), Mbali Hlophe to speed up the process of providing the Gauteng arts crafters, musicians, athletes, and freelancers with financial assistance.

This follows the revelation that the Gauteng arts crafters, musicians, athletes and freelancers have not yet received any financial assistance from the Gauteng Department of SACR as part of the relief fund since the inception of the national lockdown period due to the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for SACR, Mbali Hlophe in an oral reply to the DA’s questions during the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) virtual sitting.

According to MEC Hlophe, the artists, freelancers and athletes have not yet received any financial assistance and the process is still underway.

The department has budgeted R28 million to assist the arts and sports sector in this province. The applications for relief funding was open on 14 June and will close on 26 June. The payment process will begin in July until December.

It is worrying that in more than three months of the national lockdown the department has not yet provided any financial relief to our artists and athletes who are struggling financially and finding it difficult to make ends meet due to the strict lockdown regulations that have completely closed down the industry.

Many of the arts and culture freelancers do not qualify for social grants and as a result they have been left hung out to dry for more than three months with no income while the department drags its feet in rolling out the R28 million set aside to assist them.

These freelancers play a crucial role in the arts and culture industry and they have contributed immensely towards social cohesion and nation building.

It is the department’s responsibility to support our arts and culture freelancers both on stage and off stage as they still have a massive role to play in building this country.

The DA will monitor the process of providing financial assistance to our artists, athletes and freelancers and continue to put pressure on MEC Hlophe to speed up the process.