The Life Esidimeni Inquest that started in July has been postponed until 15 November. This is the fifth postponement, meaning another agonising wait for family members of the deceased. The Inquest is crucial to determine who should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 mental healthcare users in 2016. Here one family member, Christine Nxumalo, shares in her own words some extracts from her journal on the Inquest proceedings, the long wait, and dealing with grief.
Once widely hailed, South Africa’s Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013 – 2020 lapsed last year, with mixed reviews on its implementation from mental healthcare stakeholders. The National Department of Health now says the revised and updated Policy Framework and Plan will be in place in the next financial year. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to experts and activists about what the lapsed policy framework achieved and what to improve.
The ongoing judicial inquest into the deaths of mental healthcare users during the Life Esidimeni tragedy in 2016, has again been postponed this week. It is the fifth time the proceedings have been postponed since the inquest started in July this year, signalling that there is still a long road ahead for determining any criminal accountability for these deaths. Julia Chaskalson takes stock of the progress so far and what to expect in the months ahead.
Although individual families of the mental healthcare users who died after they were discharged from Life Esidimeni in 2016 have been compensated for the violation of their constitutional rights, the actors responsible for the deaths, suffering, and torture of the mental healthcare patients have yet to be held criminally accountable. But that could change after a formal Judicial Inquest into the deaths, starting at the Pretoria High Court on 19 July 2021.
Six years after the Life Esidimeni tragedy, an inquest into the circumstances under which more than a thousand psychiatric patients were moved into the care of NGOs and about 144 died, is set to start in the North Gauteng High Court in July. Meanwhile, some mental health NGOs and activists maintain that the Gauteng Department of Health is still short-changing mental health services. Thabo Molelekwa reports.