A judge ordered a provincial government in South Africa to pay 15 million dollars in damages to families of 144 psychiatric patients who he said died of negligence after being moved to unregistered facilities in early 2016.
About 1,300 psychiatric patients were shifted from a unit of the Life Healthcare Group to charities as part of cost-cutting measures by Gauteng’s health department, sparking public outrage.
According to PM News, Rtd Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who headed an inquiry into the deaths, ruled on Monday that the Gauteng provincial government – which oversees the capital Pretoria and economic hub Johannesburg – had violated the constitutional rights of the patients who died under its custody.
Moseneke said the provincial government’s actions were “unjustified and reckless” and he ordered compensation be paid to the family members of the patients.
Lawyers for the Gauteng health department had offered a settlement of 200,000 rand (16,573 dollars), arguing the compensation be limited to common law damages, which would have excluded compensation for the violation of the patients’ rights.