never again

Ntombifuthi Dhladhla & her late brother Joseph Gumede

Ntombifuthi Dhladhla & her late brother Joseph Gumede

“Handsome as always”

Joseph loved to listen to old jazz music on the radio and he loved to draw. Ntombifuthi, his younger sister says; “He loved to draw Mandela. Joseph said there was nothing we couldn’t do when Mandela was leading us.” 

This photograph was taken when Joseph Gumede was at Life Esidimeni. His mental illness sometimes made him violent and he used to roam the streets and disappear. So, he needed supervision. But he was always gentle with Ntombifuthi. “I love my brother and he was happy and he was handsome as always, while he was at Life Esidimeni."

The last day  Ntombifuthi saw Joseph was on 23rd December 2015. "They said the facility was going to close so I can't come see him in January. But they would tell me where they would transfer him to. But they didn't."

Joseph died in July 2016 but Ntombifuthi and her family were only told in February 2017. A social worker from the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre came and broke the news to her. Her brother had been in a state mortuary in Mamelodi for seven months.

When Ntombifuthi finally found Joseph’s body, it was so badly decomposed that she couldn’t recognize her once handsome brother. “David Makhuru promised he would make sure those responsible were punished and charged. I will not rest until they are behind bars,” she says.