never again


“We were paid compensation, but it won’t bring my son Billy back. Thank God I found him and could bury him in a decent way. But the pain is still there. The people responsible for what happened, must go to jail. The government cannot push this under the carpet.”

Reverend Maboe

Suspended Gauteng Mental Health Director Dr Makgabo Manamela resigns. She had been suspended. So by resigning she avoids a disciplinary process. A complaint is laid against her at the South African Nursing Council. To date no finding has been made.

Deputy Chief Justice – Dikgang Moseneke finds in favour of the families. He also orders that those implicated be held accountable: MEC Qedani Mahlangu, Dr Tiego Selebano and Dr Makgabo Manamela.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) announces that it had opened 46 inquest dockets into the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

Compensation is paid to families who were part of the arbitration.

Qedani Mahlangu resigned before the release of the Ombud’s report. In the arbitration she accepted no responsibility for what happened. In July the Gauteng ANC re-elects her to its Provincial Executive Committee. Following public outcry, in December, Ms Mahlangu is asked to step down from the Provincial Executive Committee.

A detailed recovery plan is developed by the Gauteng Department of Health. Organisations and families are waiting for confirmation regarding what has and hasn’t been done. It is also not clear what budget is available to implement the plan.

Dr Selebano was suspended from the Department in February 2017. Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke ordered the Gauteng Department of Health to report him to the Health Professions Council of SA. The complaint was laid but Dr Selebano is still registered with the HPCSA and can practice medicine.

The South African Human Rights Commission releases its report on the state of mental health in South Africa. It finds mental health grossly neglected, a huge lack of resources, a shortage of professionals and extremely poor services ‘The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.’

The National Prosecuting Authority announces that it will refer the Life Esidimeni deaths for a joint judicial inquest. To this day, no-one has been charged for their role in the deaths of 144 mental health care patients and the mistreatment of over a thousand others. None of the NGOs where gross neglect of patients occurred, have been criminally prosecuted either.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) makes a successful civil claim against at least three NGOs who are ordered to pay a total of R1.3 million. They fraudulently claimed money for mentally ill patients even after they were removed. It is not clear if they have paid back the money.

The arbitration directed the Government to construct, within 12 months, a monument to commemorate the Life Esidimeni tragedy. An agreement was reached with the Family Committee that a ‘living’ monument be built. A specialized mental health hospital. But there has been no progress at all on this.

The SAHRC (South African Human Rights Commission) presents its report to parliament. The report looks at the state of mental health care and residential facilities in each province. The report raises serious concerns in most provinces including Limpopo, Northern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. It shows that the state of mental health in the country has got worse since the Life Esidimeni tragedy. It waits to be seen how government will address these concerns.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has announced a formal inquest hearing into the Life Esidimeni tragedy. It will start on 19 July 2021. At the inquest a judge will make a finding on the cause of death of each of the victims who died in the tragedy. She will decide if the death was brought about by a criminal offence. Based on the judge’s decision the NPA will decide whether to prosecute whoever is responsible.

After 110 days of evidence, 21 days of case management meetings, postponement applications, 36 witnesses and all of whom SECTION27 has cross-examined. The record is sitting at 50485 pages.This has been the year that the public have heard from high level government officials and NGO owners including the owner of Precious Angels where 20 people died.We look forward to the finalisation of the inquest in 2023 and trust that the bereaved families, and all those who value accountability and the fulfilment of constitutional obligations, will see justice for the deaths of the 141 mental health care users.

The judicial inquest held at the Gauteng High court in Pretoria is taking its toll on the families who have been waiting for justice to be served, more than seven years after the tragedy. Proceedings take place virtually. Some families feel left behind, unable to follow it due to data or even connection problems. Next month it’s former MEC Qedani Mahlangu’s turn to give her evidence at the inquest. Many families say they’re not sure they are mentally prepared for it.

Qedani Mahlangu was expected to testify on Tuesday 11 April at the inquest. But her lawyers requested a postponement. Section 27 was not happy. They raised with the Judge, that families were frustrated and aggrieved about this application. But the Judge granted the postponement to 2 May 2023.

Former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu testified virtually at the Inquest Inquiry at the High Court in Pretoria. She claims she was unaware that licenses issued to NGOs that housed mental health patients were fake and that she was not directly involved in the issuing of licenses. Click here to read

Section27 prepares closing remarks for Life Inquest Inquiry to press for culpable homicide charges against key Life Esidimeni figures namely Qedani Mahlangu, Dr Selebano, Dr Manamela and NGO owner, Ethel Ncube. Read opening statement by Advocate Adila Hassim SC here and the final argument here

The proceedings from the Life Esidimeni Inquest Inquiry in the Pretoria High Court have concluded. A date has not been specified for when the findings and recommendations of the inquest will be revealed. Click here

Justice Unfinished

+Section27 Inquest Factsheet
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Life Esidimeni Press Articles
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Life Esidimeni Live Stream
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