Pretoria – The formal inquest hearing into Life Esidimeni is due to start on July 19 in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said this was determined during a meeting on Monday with Judge Mmonoa Teffo, representatives of the families, NGOs and legal defence representatives.
The judge requested all parties involved to be ready for the inquest to kick off in July.
The inquest comes five years after the tragedy in which 144 mentally ill patients died after the Gauteng Health Department moved about 1 700 patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to unsuitable NGOs and state facilities in 2016.
The NPA decided to hold a formal inquest into all the deaths related to the Esidimeni tragedy in a bid to establish who, if anyone, could be held responsible.
It earlier said several advocates had been working closely with the investigators to build a solid case.
Last month, spokesperson for one of the families, Christine Nxumalo, said they were hoping for closure.
She said they had been waiting for a long time for a judge to be appointed after the outbreak of Covid-19 apparently hampered the process.
The families have been calling for an inquest since 2016 as they believe the process would provide enough evidence to allow the NPA to prosecute those who were responsible for the tragedy.
The DA, meanwhile, welcomed the fact that the inquest date had finally been set.
The party’s provincial health spokesperson Jack Bloom said it was important that there were no more delays, as it had been long since the mentally ill patients were transferred to unsuitable and illegally registered NGOs where the deaths occurred.
“I hope that criminal charges will follow the outcome of this joint inquest so that all those implicated in the deaths are brought to justice.
“It should also not be forgotten that many of the surviving patients suffered abuse, and charges should be laid in this connection as well,” Bloom said.