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.