Horror at how SA let 141 mentally-ill patients die

30 October 2017 | Africa

Weeks of gruelling testimonies at an inquiry in South Africa have tried to answer an unfathomable question - how authorities allowed 141 mentally-ill patients to die after being moved out of a hospital.

The evidence presented has been a litany of neglect, incompetence and cruelty that lawyer Dirk Groenewald described as “the greatest human rights violation since the dawn of democracy” in South Africa.

Every day, families of the victims have told shocking stories of how their loved ones were taken from the hospital, badly mistreated at unlicensed health facilities and then died.

Starting last February, more than 1 700 patients were rapidly relocated from the Life Esidimeni hospital in Johannesburg to 27 privately run clinics that were unable to care for them.

The Gauteng provincial health department cancelled its contract with Esidimeni as a cost-cutting measure.

“One day my sister went to go see our mother, but was told she was moved. Nobody contacted us,” Boitumelo Mangena, 24, told the inquiry in just one of many harrowing personal accounts.

“My brother found her (at a clinic). She lost a lot of weight. She hadn't been bathed for a while, I could tell it from the smell.

“All the patients were getting the same medication but my mom's meds were very specific to her condition.”

Mangena's mother, who suffered dementia, died three weeks after being moved from Esidimeni to one clinic and then another in Soweto.

“The cause of death was cardiac arrest and epileptic fit. My mother was never epileptic. We discovered she had been starved and dehydrated to death,” she said.

“These people were sent to their death and they died in the most horrible way possible, they were tortured to death.

“I was thinking we could get some answers so we can heal, but that didn't happen. Nobody wants to be held liable.”

An earlier official investigation, which sparked uproar in South Africa, detailed how confused patients were hurriedly removed from the hospital and taken to care centres that were often overcrowded and unheated.

Staff were untrained, the facilities were ill-equipped, and patients were left far from their families, who didn't know where they were.

Joseph Maboe, a pastor, told the inquiry that he went to Esidimeni to visit his son Billy, who was epileptic, but found he had already been transferred.

Instead Maboe watched other patients being moved in “big trucks”.

“They were just like goats and sheep taken to an auction,” he said.

Maboe said that “Billy was very happy to be there (Esidimeni)” but later he found his son at a clinic outside Pretoria looking “frail, filthy, hungry and disorientated”.

“He asked for water and they said they couldn't give it to him because he wets himself,” he said.

Billy, 53, died less than a week later.

“When we are shattered like this, what can we say to the government? They don't care,” Maboe said.

In another distressing testimony, Sandra de Villiers said that “not even an animal would be treated” like her brother Jaco Stols was at the clinic he was taken to.


Similar News


DRC unrest heightens concerns

4 days ago - 18 June 2018 | Africa

One of the world's most unstable countries was already struggling with a political crisis and nail-biting uncertainty.A decision by a war crimes tribunal has now...

Mugabe off the hook for diamond loot

1 week ago - 13 June 2018 | Africa

Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe will not appear before a Mines and Energy Parliamentary Committee investigating the looting and loss of diamond revenue amounting to...

Zim opposition marches for reform ahead of polls

2 weeks ago - 07 June 2018 | Africa

Thousands of Zimbabwean opposition supporters took to the streets on Tuesday to call for electoral reforms to prevent fraud and voter intimidation ahead of presidential...

DRC crisis stirs concerns

2 weeks ago - 07 June 2018 | Africa

Across central Africa, a belt of countries is casting a wary eye at the political crisis brewing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), fearing...

Nine Moz 'insurgents' shot

2 weeks ago - 05 June 2018 | Africa

Police in Mozambique said on Sunday that they killed nine “insurgents” in the country's far north after ten people were decapitated by suspected jihadists in...

20 kidnapped in eastern DR Congo

3 weeks ago - 01 June 2018 | Africa

Around 20 civilians have been kidnapped since the weekend in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a stronghold of multiple armed groups, officials said Wednesday.The kidnappings...

Student who received R14m NSFAS payout in error appears...

3 weeks ago - 31 May 2018 | Africa

Sibongile Mani, the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student who accidentally received more than R14m from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and went on...

SA teachers not vetted for sex offences

3 weeks ago - 29 May 2018 | Africa

The SA Council of Educators (SACE) conceded on Sunday that it had not used the Sex Offenders Register to vet teachers in the past as...

100 migrants flee Libyan camp

3 weeks ago - 28 May 2018 | Africa

More than 100 east African migrants escaped from a camp in the Libyan town of Bani Walid where they were being held hostage and tortured,...

UK pensioner guilty of child rape in Kenya

4 weeks ago - 24 May 2018 | Africa

A 72-year-old British man was convicted on Tuesday of raping two children in Kenya after a trial in Britain in which one of his victims...

Latest News

Ship-buying spree in the Bahamas...

4 hours ago | Economics

NDAMA NAKASHOLEOne of the most interesting statistics was unusually high import volumes from the Bahamas, an archipelago of about 700 tropical islands that is mainly...

Bank Windhoek finances Bel Esprit

4 hours ago | Economics

Bank Windhoek Corporate and Institutional Banking is proud to have financed of the newly built Bel Esprit Mental Health Clinic, a 69-bed mental healthcare facility...


4 hours ago | Economics

Quote of the day“South African maize farmers are expected to harvest in ‘full swing’ the next couple of weeks,” - Warren Langridge, Grain Option Market...

Skyrocketing World Cup prices hit...

4 hours ago | Health

About 200 medical students who were sponsored by the ministry of health to go and study in Russia claim the ministry is neglecting them, while...

Katrina reads riot act to...

4 hours ago | Education

Education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa has rebuked school principals for expecting rewards for poor performance, saying some of them act like “very important persons (VIPs)”, while...

I am fine – Endjala

4 hours ago | Government

Omusati governor Erginus Endjala has played down his fainting spell yesterday morning while delivering his State of the Region Address at Outapi. Endjala, 49,...

Phosphate could leave thousands jobless

4 hours ago | Environment

Labour expert Herbert Jauch has waded into the phosphate debate, saying that the hundreds of jobs that could be created by this type of mining...

Coca-Cola Zim buckles under pressure...

4 hours ago | Economics

The Coca-Cola Company and Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited have bowed down to public pressure and has announced the re-introduction of popular cordial drinks that had their...

Bringing change everyday

4 hours ago | People

Gabby TjirozeEach long-serving Metropolitan employee has a story to tell about being at the company for more than 20 years. Metropolitan has been a major...

Load More