30 January 2018

South Africa: Life Esidimeni - the 'Missing' Victims - Could the Toll Be 200?

analysis

A reported 62 patients are unaccounted for after being moved from Life Esidimeni. The Gauteng health department lists them as numbers on a page. By GREG NICOLSON.

Does Umvelo Khumalo like to laugh? He was born in 1983. Did he smile for photos as a boy, or was he that awkward kid, with a half-smile, half-grimace? Was he fearless and loved playing soccer in the street? Or he was shy and preferred staying indoors? I bet he still likes the smell after it rains.

The page doesn't tell us. All it says is he was born in May, 1983. At some point he was a patient at Life Esidimeni. Now he's missing.

Khumalo is one of 62 psychiatric patients the government moved out of Life Esidimeni in 2016 who are now missing, or unaccounted for - it depends who you ask. Around 1,700 patients were moved during the Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project; 144 died, mostly in unsuitable NGOs, due to lack of care.

The Life Esidimeni arbitration began in October 2017 to help relatives of the dead find truth and reconciliation, and award them compensation, but more than 18 months after the patients were moved, and the survivors moved...

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