The Life Esidimeni Tragedy: "This is a human being, we cannot throw him away""They treated these people like animals... X died because of human hands"
In October 2017, a team of mental health professionals was convened by clinical psychologist Coralie Trotter in order to assess and document the lived experiences of the family members of the Life Esidimeni patients who died. The brief to the team was to attempt to determine the extent of the impact of this trauma on the families who lost their loved ones so tragically and to provide recommendations with regard to necessary reparative and restorative processes. Over 140 mental health patients died when they had been inappropriately moved by the Gauteng Department of Health to "institutions" that were not equipped for the patients.
EPASSA members responded to the call and volunteered to be a part of the process that aimed to compile the stories of the families’ experiences. The team decided to use the approach of a single therapeutic interview. This in itself was an intervention that allowed the families to express their deepest pain and be heard by qualified professionals while the accounts of the tragedy from the families were documented. The team, which included Educational Psychologists from EPASSA, then submitted the reports to Coralie Trotter who collated the reports into a final that was presented to Judge Dikgang Moseneke at the Life Esidimeni arbitration.
The process restored some dignity to the mother's, father's, children, siblings, nephews, nieces and other relatives of those who had died. The attached report is now available to the public and reveals the depth of tragedy and extreme trauma that the mental health patients and their families experienced.
The full report can be viewed here.