never again

Edith Pilane and her late mother Seipati Janet Pilane

Edith Pilane and her late mother Seipati Jane Pilane

My only princess

Edith Pilane was at work when her phone rang. It was her daughter Palesa. She was distraught. “Mommy they say granny is not here. They have moved her.There are no paitents here anymore and the security guard won’t let me in. He says he doesn’t know where everyone has been taken to.”   

This is how Edith PIlane discovered her mother, Seipati Jane Pilane, had been moved from Life Esidimeni in Randfontein. Seipati had been diagnosed with dementia and bipolar disorder, and needed full time supervision and care. She had lived at Life Esidimeni Randfontein, since 2013.

Edith and her children visited Seipati every month. They took her home cooked food, snacks and fruit.  But on that terrible day, Edith was busy at work and so her daughter had gone to visit her grandmother alone.

2 weeks search

So began Edith’s 2 week search for her mother. The next day she went to Cullinan but her mother wasn’t there. They said try Sterkfontein, but she wasn’t there either. Westkoppies and Takalani were next. But still she couldn’t find her mom.

She called other NGOs but the phones just rang. “Finally, I was told my mom had been transferred to Precious Angels in Atteridgeville. I was given the number of  Ethel Ncube, and she confirmed that my mom was there. 

It took three taxis to get to Atteridgeville. When they arrived at Precious Angels the first thing Edith and Palesa noticed was how filthy the house was. “They didn’t want to bring my mother to me. I was angry and told them to bring her right away.”

One of the helpers brought my mother in a wheelchair. I could not believe it was her. Palesa burst into tears when she saw her granny. Seipati was wearing a man’s golf t-shirt and no socks. She looked cold. She was very thin with sores around her mouth. She couldn’t eat the food they had brought her. And she couldn’t see. She had become blind.

Editih asked Ethel if she could please bath her mother. She had brought her toiletries, new clothes, slippers and a warm gown. Ethel refused.  

Edith did not have the money to employ a full-time carer but she told Ehtel she would return to take her mom home as soon as she had organized getting a wheelchair for her.  

“I called the following day to find out how my mothers was doing,” Edith says. “But Ethel’s phone just rang. Thursday I tried again. Nothing.”

 On Saturday, 23 July 2016 my son, Karabo, received a call from Ethel. She hold him his grandmother had died.

 “I was very close to my mother,” Edith recalls. “I was an only child and she called me ‘her only princess'.”

The death certificate lists Seipati’s death as ‘natural causes’.  “But I saw how my mother was near the end. She died in a terrible way. When will this terrible pain end. We need justice.”