The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng says disgraced former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu and Gauteng Premier David Makhura must be held financially accountable for the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
The party's Gauteng premier candidate, Solly Msimanga, said this while addressing a picket outside Makhura's offices in Johannesburg on Monday.
During the tragedy, 144 psychiatric patients died after being moved from Life Esidimeni centres to unlicensed NGOs across Gauteng.
On Monday, about 50 people clad in DA T-shirts and gloves held up placards which read: "The ANC's [African National Congress'] bloody three". Red paint, symbolising blood, covered the gloves. Images of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mahlangu and Makhura were depicted on the posters.
"We are saying they must also be held accountable financially as well. It cannot be that millions are going to be paid, millions that should be going towards service delivery. Millions that should have been going towards building people [and] houses are now going to be paid to the families, yet at the same time, nobody is held financially accountable for this," Msimanga said.
Msimanga added that it was not fair that taxpayers' money is used to compensate the families of the victims while those involved in the processes leading up to the tragedy are given "golden handshakes".
"We cannot have them getting golden handshakes after May 8. They must be held accountable for what happened in Life Esidimeni and Marikana."
"We are here to say to David Makhura, Qedani Mahlangu and Cyril Ramaphosa that people died out of negligence and now taxpayers are supposed to be paying for the mistake that they did and we are saying it's not enough," he said.
In February, News24 reported that Makhura said 365 families had still not been compensated in line with Justice Dikgang Moseneke's arbitration ruling. He was replying to DA MP Jack Bloom's questions in the Gauteng legislature.
Makhura said R164-million had been paid to 134 claimants who were part of the arbitration process, and to four new claimants.
He also told the legislature that a verification process, involving the Master of the High Court, was under way.