Former deputy chief justice of the Constitutional Court, Dikgang Moseneke, has been appointed to mediate between the department of health and the families of the Life Esidimeni victims.
Over 100 psychiatric patients died when they were transferred from Life Esidimeni centres to NGOs, many of which were not registered and were not equipped to treat them, by the Gauteng department of health.
In his investigative report, health ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makhoba recommended an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process to mediate between government and the families of those who died, to avoid a protracted legal process, Daily Maverick reported on Thursday.
"If you went the legal route it would be protracted. It would damage relationships. It would become a political football. It won't help the reconciliation of the country," he reportedly said.
The Gauteng department of health announced on Thursday that Moseneke had been appointed to be lead the ADR process. This followed an agreement between the Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, and the families.
Makhura's spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, reportedly said: "The office of the premier will provide any support that the mediator may require to facilitate the dispute resolution process."
Makgoba told Daily Maverick that he had decided on the ADR process because it was about "relationship building, trust and confidence and moving together united rather than divided."
In his report, Makgoba reportedly said: "The national department of health must respond humanely and in the best interest of affected individuals, families, relatives and the nation. The process must incorporate and respect the diverse cultures and traditions of those concerned. The response must include an unconditional apology to families and relatives of deceased and live patients who were subjected to this avoidable trauma; and as a result of the emotional and psychological trauma the relatives have endured, psychological counselling and support must be provided immediately."
Family members were reportedly happy with the decision. One family member, Christine Nxumalo, told Daily Maverick: "I think it was more the credibility, his work before this and I suppose the principle behind the person. We needed someone who hasn't been tainted before and who doesn't have a background that could derail the process."