NEWS

Life Esidimeni: Woman Weeps Listening To Testimony About Her Brother's Decomposed Body

Her brother was a patient at Life Esidimeni and he was moved to an unlicensed NGO.

30/11/2017 20:30 SAST | Updated 30/11/2017 20:30 SAST
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Families of victims gather during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown on October 09, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

A woman broke down as she listened to testimony about her brother's badly decomposed body at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing in Johannesburg.

Her brother was a patient at Life Esidimeni and he was moved to an unlicensed NGO.

Giving evidence was mortuary manager Daniel Buda, who works at the Mamelodi Regional Hospital.

He testified about how Joseph Gumede's body was transferred from one mortuary to another.

According to the evidence, the mortuary received a telephone call from the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre (CCRC) asking them to store the body.

His body was sent to the mortuary on August 16, 2016 and, at the time, it already smelt bad.

On September 27 the body was taken by a forensic pathologist and was returned to the mortuary on December 16.

The body looked very bad. It was very clear. You could see that all the liquids were no longer there. It was just skin and bones.

He testified that he did not know the state of the body when it was handed to the pathologist. However, when it returned, it appeared old and it had water droplets and a bad smell.

"Ever since I was appointed at Mamelodi, that had never happened," he added.

Trevor Kunene/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke during the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing at Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown on October 09, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Concerns were raised

Gumede's sister Ntombifuthi Dladla walked out of the hearing in tears.

Buda also testified that no one ever indicated why the pathologist kept the body for almost two months.

He said the body was normal when it was initially received and, when it was handed back to the family, it was "just skin and bones".

The arbitration previously heard evidence from Daphney Ndhlovu, a social worker at the Cullinan CCRC who testified that she only contacted Gumede's family more than six months after his death.

Ndhlovu testified that she and other staff members had raised their concerns about how the centre was taking in more patients than it could handle, News24 previously reported.

The CCRC took in 267 patients when it only had capacity for 150.

More than 140 mentally ill patients lost their lives when they were abruptly moved to various unlicensed NGOs across Gauteng, after the health department cancelled a contract with Life Esidimeni to save money.

The department of health had issued licences to non-compliant NGOs.

-- News24