I recently saw the video of Lauren Southern expressing how white farmers in South Africa are being targeted and murdered,some including her have called it a genocide. Let me just tell you as an actual South African that this is not true.
The facts are that less than 100 hundred farmers were killed last year, there are 14200 registered farmers in South Africa. This is also a country that has 46 murders a day, its only probable that white farmers will be included in the statistics as they're apart of the country.
Lauren should've focused on a tragedy that could bring people to account and help families find closure. This devastation of human life and human rights has been dubbed the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
Life Esidimeni is a mental health facility that professionally looks after people suffering from mental health disabilities that need constant, 24/7 care. These are vulnerable members of society that often cannot communicate for their needs and wants. This facility is renowned across the country for offering patients the care they need and deserve, but most importantly, as you will see, they treated the patients with respect.
The Life Esidimeni contract with the Health Department of Gauteng( A province in South Africa) was terminated in October 2015 announced by the MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, the department had 6 months to deinstitutionalise 2000 mentally ill patients.
Anyone that works in the psychiatric field will tell you that deinstitutionalisation of patients does not take 6 months and to do it properly, often taking as long as 10 years.
Did anyone try to stop the move?
Families, civil society organisations and professional associations all tried desperately to convince the Department it was placing patients in danger by moving them to places that could not give them the care they required. They were even forced to take the Department to court twice. June 2015 – the South African Society of Psychiatrists(SASOP) wrote to the MEC about the risks. SASOP warned the closure was “premature” and “in contradiction” of the policy. It predicted the negative outcomes that have now occurred.
What transpired after?
The mental health patients were discharged between March and June 2016 to NGO's that the Department of Health had deemed adequate for the care of 2000 patients. These NGO's ranged from a single room in someones back yard, to 3 zinc structures erected to "accommodate" the patients.
This is the start of a terrifying act against human rights. The patients were moved, many without their families knowledge or approval and others had been moved multiple times without paper work. In July 2016 family members were still not notified about the whereabouts of their loved ones and many had set out to physically search areas where they think their loved ones would be. There was zero response from the Department of Health.
In September 2016, the MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu confirms to parliament that 36 patients had died in the move. A request of an investigation into the deaths was tabled to the Health Ombudsman. On the 23rd of January 2017, Qedani Mahlangu resigns. The 24th of January, the report from the Ombudsman comes out revealing that at least 94 people had died up to date.
(K Byyyye, I resign)
In the Arbitration, headed by Deputy Justice Dikgang Moseneke, it was revealed that 156 patients have died up to date and that 50+ patients are STILL missing from the transfer. A family member revealed how she went to look for her brother in all the local mortuaries, she found him, on the floor in an office of a mortuary that was in a shopping mall. Many patients were 60 people in a room, they weren't getting their required medication, food or any family contact as none knew where they had been moved to.
Autopsies revealed that many patients had died from starvation, trauma, suffocation and lack of care. In their stomachs they found plastic bags and polystyrene, items they were eating as they didnt have access to food. These are the most vulnerable people in our society who were being abused and tortured whilst the owners of the NGO's were collecting R1 million per month ($80 000). One of the owners of a property was just 21 years old and has spent all the millions she received, on the deaths of at least 200 people.
(Deputy Justice Moseneke trying to hold back the tears)
It is the final 2 days of arbitration today, it has brought everyone in the room to tears at one point of the process, including the legal council and Justice. The families have initially been awarded R200 000($18000) for emotional damages.Their family members were eating plastic and drinking urine to try stay alive. There is no genocide here against anyone, we just have officials that do not care about the public at large.
The reason behind the move was to save money, however, Life Esidimeni hospital was more cost effective to the Department, now there is a loss of over 200 lives in the most unspeakable ways. Whats worse is that over 1000 of the patients that were moved initially are still at the NGOs in people's gardens and backrooms.
It is an absolute stain on the Democracy of holding public officials to account. Its a stain on the Democracy of South Africa, that we still have a government that doesn't care about its people, even after all that they've been through.
Please share to get the story out there and do some research on Life Esidimeni and mental health.