20 October 2017

South Africa: I've Been Having Nightmares - Daughter of Life Esidimeni Patient

The daughter of a Life Esidimeni patient who died at an NGO after she was moved, said the death of her mother has taken a physical, mental and emotional toll on the entire family.

Boitumelo Mangena, 24, told the arbitration hearing on Friday that she had been using muscle relaxants and sleeping pills since her mother's demise at Takalani, an NGO in Soweto where the conditions had been described as "appalling".

"When we went to look at her body, I literally ran out, it was that bad... I've been having nightmares ever since," said Mangena.

She told the hearings that her mother, Raisibe Rahab Mangena, had suffered from vascular dementia and had been a patient at Life Esidimeni in Randfontein before she was moved to Takalani.

"At Life Esidimeni, she was stable, she was comfortable around the nurses, she developed a relationship with the nurses."

Shocked at circumstances

She said that between herself, her sister, two brothers and an aunt, they always ensured her mother had a visitor every weekend.

Mangena said she had been informed their mother had been moved to another facility after her sister went to visit.

In May, her brother established that their mother had been moved to Takalani in Soweto.

After visiting, Mangena said her brother was shocked by the conditions in which he had found their mother.

"He says the circumstances there was devastating."

The facility was overcrowded, their mother wore the same clothes she had worn at Life Esidimeni and she had lost a lot of weight.

"He didn't even recognise my mom the first time. She lost a lot of weight," she said.

Their mother was sitting on a bench in the corner, without socks or a jersey as winter was approaching.

"She was shivering... [The staff] had no training, they had no experience, they had no skills," she said.

Mangena told the arbitration hearing that her brother witnessed staff at Takalani give patients the same medication from three different boxes.

"Each patient was getting the same medication... The patients who could walk themselves to the nurses, got the medication," she said.

Within three weeks of being moved to Takalani, her mother died on June 6. The family was only informed the next day of her passing.

"I was on my way to go write my paper when I got the call from my brother... I was going to write economics, my major," she said.

The family was told their mother died from cardiac arrest and epilepsy, but her mother was never epileptic.

Mangena said the family was told she actually had a series of mild strokes, which to an untrained person would look like epileptic fits.

The hearings continue.

Source: News24

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