Documentary Premiere: Dignity Denied (follow-up)

Documentary Premiere: Dignity Denied (follow-up)

In mid-September it emerged that 36 former Life Esidimeni psychiatric patients have died. These deaths come after the private health care provider’s contract was terminated, resulting in patients being moved to community NGOs in and around Gauteng. In early October another death was confirmed, bringing the death toll to 37.

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Reverend Joseph Maboe visits the grave of his son, Billy, a former Life Esidimeni patient.
Reverend Joseph Maboe visits the grave of his son, Billy, a former Life Esidimeni patient.

A new Health-e News documentary, Dignity Denied (the follow-up), investigates these deaths further.

Elizabeth Phangela’s brother Christopher Makhoba was a patient at the Life Esidimeni Waverley Care Centre in Germiston from 2009 onwards. When the contract termination came into effect, he was moved to Randfontein and then to Precious Angels NGO in Danville near Pretoria. The NGO, a simple residential house with no official signage outside, was to be where he tragically met his death.

Now, Elizabeth is desperately searching for answers about the circumstances leading to Christopher’s death. We accompany her on her journey.

“I knelt down and checked him and discovered he was so stiff as if he had died long ago and he was very thin,” says Elizabeth with a tear in her eye, recalling the experience of identifying her brother’s body at the mortuary.

Reverend Joseph Maboe has undergone an equally traumatic ordeal. His son, Billy, was moved from the Life Esidimeni Randfontein Care Centre to an NGO over 100 kilometres away in Hammanskraal. According to Joseph, Bophelong NGO was not adequately prepared to take in psychiatric patients. He says his son received a poor level of care – he was thin, depressed and desperately hungry when Joseph visited him last. A few days later he died at Jubilee District Hospital.

“They were just dumped there, dumped. It’s a dumping ground as far as I’m concerned,” says Joseph.

Health ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, is currently investigating the fatalities that have occurred since patients were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities to community NGOs. His investigation is expected to be completed towards the end of November. The families of the dead want somebody to be held accountable.

Dignity Denied (the follow-up) exposes just how ill equipped some of these NGOs are and asks – why so many deaths?

Watch the premiere of ‘Dignity Denied’ tonight on Checkpoint, eNCA at 9.30pm and eTV at 10.05pm. Share your comments on Twitter using #Checkpoint

CHECKPOINT: eNCA at 9.30PM & eTV at 10.05pm

DATE OF BROADCAST: 11 OCTOBER 2016

PRODUCER: KYLA HERRMANNSEN