never again

Phumzile Motshegwa and her late brother Solly Mashigo

Phumzile Motshegwa & her late brother Solly Mashigo

“Your brother is dead,” the caller said

When Phumzile was a little girl her brother Solly Mashigo carried her on his back to school. But then one day everything changed. It was a time of violent political unrest in South Africa. Solly was taking the train to visit his girlfriend. As he got off, he was hit on the head with a machete.

The blow to his head, left him brain damaged. He couldn’t do anything for himself anymore and lived in hospitals for most of his life. “At Life Esidimeni he received the best care,” Phumzile says.

In September 2016 Phumzile received a call. She did not recognize the number. But it was Ethel Ncube of Precious Angels.

“ Your brother is dead,” Ethel told her. “You need to collect his body.”

Phumzile knew that Life Esidimeni was going to close. But no one told her that her brother had already been moved to Precious Angels. “No one told me anything,” she says. “He was moved without my knowledge or permission.”

Phumzile found her brother at a funeral parlour called PutU2Rest Mortuary. The address was a disused butcher’s shop. The floors were blood stained. She was told to look through the bodies, to find her brother. She had to look through 36 bodies before she found him.

“The people who did this are still walking free,” Phumzile says.“Solly was a good person. My sons miss their uncle terribly. It’s just not right .”