19 October 2017

South Africa: Life Esidimeni Patients Loaded Like Goats Into a Truck - Family

The families of two Life Esidimeni patients testified on Thursday how they were never informed that their relatives would be moved to different institutions, including a number of unlicensed NGOs.

Reverend Joseph Maboe, 80, only discovered that his son Billy was moved away from Life Esidimeni when he went to visit him in June last year.

But before that, Maboe told the arbitration hearing into the deaths of Life Esidimeni patients that he went to visit his son one day, only to find two trucks loading patients at the institution.

"I saw two big trucks loading people [in May 2016]. They were so confused, the poor people. Some of them were crying, some were in wheelchairs," Maboe said.

"They were so confused. They were like goats or sheep at an auction," he said.

Maboe said he went back in June to find his son was no longer there, and Life Esidimeni had been replaced by a different facility.

"I became very worried," he said. "I prayed everyday, I scouted around. We were haunted [not knowing where Billy was]."

On his 79th birthday, Maboe got a call from his son, which finally allowed him to track him down.

He told the hearing that after visiting him; he was shocked to find him in the condition he was in.

"When I looked at Billy, I got the shock of my life. He looked frail, he looked disorientated, he looked hungry, he look filthy, he was stinking," Maboe explained.

The following week, Maboe got a call from the NGO telling him his son was taken to hospital and that he was very ill.

Maboe testified that he only managed to get transport to go visit his son in hospital on the Friday, leaving Randfontein around 14:30. When they arrived around 16:30, Maboe was told that Billy passed away earlier that day.

Given a chance to comment after his testimony, Maboe said he was disappointed that officials did not listen when they asked to be heard.

"My own understanding and my own assessment, [is] we would not be sitting here if they left those people at Life Esidimeni... All these people, they could still be alive," he said.

A painful experience

Maboe's testimony was followed by Monomong Welheminah Thejane, whose brother Daniel Charles Josiah, also passed away after he was moved without the family being notified.

Thejane testified that after tracking her brother down, following his move away from Life Esidimeni, she found him in a weak condition.

"He did not even have his file from Esidimeni, he did not have his ID document, they did not know anything about his medical history," she said through an interpreter.

Thejane said it has been a painful experience for her and her family, as two of her sisters have since also passed away.

Asked whether she wanted to say something to any of the officials who had come to testify, she said: "I have nothing to say to them."

The hearings continue on Friday with more family members expected to testify.

Source: News24

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