never again

Fakazile Dibetsoe with her late aunt Ntombikayise Mgaga

Fakazile Dibetsoe with her late aunt Ntombikayise Mgag

Like animals

Fakazile was very close to her aunt. “My mom died a long time ago and my aunt, Ntombikayise Mgaga raised me,” she says. “She was a very beautiful woman and a pillar of strength in my life. We used to share clothes too. ‘Just lend me that belt of yours,’ she would say.  My aunt worked at Nedbank as a cleaner but when she was around 50 she started forgetting things all the time. That was her last job.”

“I realized then things were not right and her family said I must take care of her. She had developed dementia. Eventually I was able to admit her to Life Esidimeni Randfontein. She was there for many years. The staff were kind and it felt like a safe place,” says Fakazile.

Then Fakazile heard they have moved everyone. Eventually after help from the Life Esidimeni Family Committee, she found her aunt at Cullinan in Pretoria. “If it wasn’t for them, I may never have found her.”

“I will never forget that day I saw her again,” she recalls. “It was a very cold day. I arrived at Cullinan and they told me my aunt wasn’t there. I said I wanted to go inside and check for myself and they had to let me in.”

Ntombikayise was there and she recognized her niece straight away. But what Fakazile saw shocked her to the core.

“My aunt was bare foot. She had no jersey on. I gave her some food I had brought along, and she grabbed it and ate like a hungry dog. The room she was in smelt terrible. She was locked inside with many male patients and it was so cold.”

Ntombikayise was then moved again to Germiston where she stayed for three months. But she got worse. She suddenly couldn’t walk anymore. Germiston was far, but Fakazile visited her as often as she could. She bought her aunt slippers and a gown.

“But I was so worried,” she recalled. “One day when I called them, they told me that your aunt doesn’t seem okay. But call us later they said.”

“When I called back, they said Ntombikayise was dead and I must come with undertakers.“

How could this government and these NGOs, treat patients like this? Like animals!  We got money but we are still waiting for justice. God will deal with them,” she says.