never again

Vaughn Van Rooyen & his late Sister Cindy Van Rooyen

Vaughn Van Rooyen & his late Sister Cindy Van Rooyen

In an old lady’s dress

“It was Christmas day in Eldorado Park. Cindy is laughing and laughing. She is so happy,” Vaughn her older brother remembers. But Vaughn feels great sadness when he looks at this photograph. “I can’t get out of my mind how she looked when I saw her before she died. That’s the picture that stays with me. She was wearing someone else’s dress that was too big. An old lady’s dress. I gave her a hug and she smelt like she hadn’t been washed. And she was so skinny. Like a skeleton."

Cindy Van Rooyen died after being moved to Takalani. Vaughn believes she died from neglect and hunger.

Before she was moved she was living at Life Esidimeni Randfontein. "But in 2015 my uncle called because he had heard that patients from Life Esidimeni had died," says Vaughn.

When Vaughn arrived at Life Esidimeni the security guards told him that all the patients had been moved. Vaughn eventually traced Cindy to Takalani but he was shocked when he saw her.

“Cindy recognised me but she did not seem happy. It was as if she was pleading with me to take her home. I felt helpless and I wanted to take Cindy back home with me. But I was not going to be able to take care of her."

In April Cindy was admitted to hospital and died soon after. “The thought of how she suffered is still in my heart,” says Vaughn.