South Africa To Pay Compensation Over Deaths Of 140 Mentally Ill Patients

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South Africa

South African Government has agreed to pay compensation to families of the 140 psychiatric patients who died after being transferred from a licensed care home to unregistered charities.

“The state and the law firm representing 63 of the families reached an agreement that they would each receive about 16,500 dollars.

“They also agreed for emotional shock and psychological injury as well as funeral expenses,’’ the law firm Section 27 said in a statement on Thursday.

The scandal shocked South Africa and an arbitration process has been ongoing for weeks.

It said that numerous government officials gave testimony and the health minister breaking into tears and calling the tragedy “reminiscent of the apartheid era.’’

The ombudsman’s report into the deaths in 2017 found that many of the patients were tied up and transported to their new accommodation in the back of vans “like cattle’’ during the transfers in 2016.

It noted that many of them later died from starvation and dehydration at the facilities, while other patients are still missing.

It added that some of the relatives were not informed of the move at all and not immediately informed of the patients’ subsequent deaths.

“It is still unclear why over 1,000 mentally ill patients were moved.

“The local government says it was because of financial constraints, but the hearings suggested there was not a lack of funds.

“Several officials have been forced to resign over the scandal, but it is unclear whether criminal charges will be filed,’’ the statement noted.

The statement said that in spite of Thursday’s compensation agreement, the legal argument for constitutional damages at the hearing continues on Friday.

“The judge will then have a month to decide on a final award for all families,’’ it stressed.

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