Is Gauteng govt deliberately delaying Esidimeni payments?
A lack of money and no sense of urgency would see claimants not getting their money before March 2019, the DA's Jack Bloom has suggested.
Relatives of Life Esidimeni victims are seen outside the premier’s office where Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe addressed them in Newtown, Johannesburg, 10 December 2018. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips /African News Agency/ ANA
The Gauteng government does not have enough money for its remaining claimants in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which means it may be delaying payments in order to wait for the next financial year, DA’s member of the provincial legislature, Jack Bloom, has suggested.
This comes after desperate claimants for survivors of the project were furious that government failed to meet a self-imposed deadline yesterday, within which claimants who came forward after the related arbitration process were supposed to be paid.
A small group of claimants marched to Premier David Makhura’s office in Newtown yesterday, demanding answers as to why not a single one of the more than 200 claimants who came forward after the arbitration award announcement early this year had been paid.
Bloom suggested this had more to do with a lack of money and sense of urgency than the red-tape excuse suggested by government.
Gauteng diverted R160 million from various departments to this end and an additional R118 million was allocated to this year’s budget to pay out the rest of the claims, which each amounted to about R1.2 million.
According to Bloom, not only did this mean government had under-budgeted for the process, but the likelihood that any of the claimants who came forward after the judgment would see their money before the end of the financial year in March was slim.
The government had earlier promised families that it wished to complete the verification process swiftly, so that all claims could be settled by yesterday.
But in a statement yesterday, Makhura’s office said this would not be possible because of a requirement to ensure claimants were issued with letters of authority or appointed as administrators for the claims.
The province said it met with families on Saturday to explain this, but claimants such as Helen Mabuya, 59, said they were considering taking legal action.
Besides the R20 000 in funeral expenses awarded to family members of deceased victims, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke ordered the province to pay R180 000 to each claimant for general damages for shock and psychological trauma and R1 million to each claimant as appropriate relief. This meant about R1.2 million in total for each claimant.