oa South African Journal of Bioethics and Law - The Life Esidimeni tragedy Arbitration award : a step in the direction of justice - editorial

Volume 11 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1999-7639



Past issues of the South African Journal of Bioethics and Law have discussed the ethical violations and human rights abuses that were committed during the Life Esidimeni tragedy. This editorial describes some aspects of the subsequent Arbitration award. A total of 144 mental healthcare patients died after their moves from the Life Esidimeni facilities, which began in October 2015. An additional 1 418 were exposed to trauma and morbidity, but fortunately survived. Of these, the whereabouts of 44 patients remain unknown. The arbitration proceedings started on 9 October 2017, and lasted 4 months. The sittings were over 45 days, and 60 witnesses, of whom 12 were senior state officials, took the stand and gave evidence under oath. The Arbitration was established as a result of a recommendation by the health ombud, in his report that investigated the circumstances leading to the death of these patients. The core dispute to be resolved by the Arbitrator, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, was the nature and extent of equitable redress due to patients and their families. The arbitration process was also intended to achieve closure for the families.

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