never again

Sophie Goitsemang Mahlatsi doesn’t have a photograph of her late cousin Christina Lale

Sophie Goitsemang Mahlatsi doesn’t have a photograph of her late cousin Christina Lale

A pear cake

Christina Lale was not able to talk. She was mute and needed full time care.

“But when she saw me she was always happy,” Sophie remembers. She smiles when she recalls. “Especially when I brought pears. Christina didn’t like bananans. But she loved pears. It was a special treat when I baked her a cake with pears.”

Christina and Sophie’s late mother were sisters. Sophie has been told that Christina died on 6 June 2016 in Pretoria. The cause of death is listed as ‘natural causes’.  But Christine believes that negligence on the part of the Gauteng Department of Health led to Christina’s death.  They moved Christina without preparing for her care, without informing her family where she was, and without her medical records or other documents accompanying her.

Christina had lived at Life Esidimeni Randfontein for many years. “Since all of Christina’s immediate family had died, I took it upon myself and my children to visit her there,” says Sophie. 

But due to financial constraints Sophie was not always able to to vist as often as she wanted. “But I was confident Christina was in good hands,” she says.

When Christina was moved, Sophie really struggled to get information about where she had been moved to. 

“I was not aware of the intended close of Life Esidimeni. I only became aware that Christina had been removed from Life Esidimeni when I received a phone call from a hospital to tell me that Christina had been admitted there. This was towards the end of May 20216."

Sophie was not able to visit Christina before she died. The hospital was near Cullinan, nearly two hours by car from Soweto, where she stays.  She didn’t have the money or her own transport to get there.

“Christina died about five days after I received the information that she had been admitted to the hospital,” Sophie says. “The hospital says she was admitted because she was suffering from diarrhea.”  

 “My heart is so sore,” Sophie says.“I miss her. How can so many people have died? I think the government were not doing their job properly.“