Dad tells of search for Esidimeni patient
JOHANNESBURG — Reverend Joseph Maboe (80) was stunned the day he finally managed to track down his son, Billy.
Billy was moved from Life Esidimeni to an NGO in Hammanskraal in Pretoria without any consultation with his family, and his condition deteriorated.
“Billy was dehydrated, he was hungry, he was filthy, he was smelly,” said Maboe.
Less than a week after finding his son at Bophelong, one of the NGOs where the around 1 400 Life Esidimeni patients had been transferred, Billy (53) died.
Billy’s story was one of two cases highlighted by Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba during the first day of the alternative dispute resolution hearings held in Johannesburg.
His father told News24 that his son had been sent to various institutions through the years as he suffered from epilepsy and another mental disorder.
“He was part of the family at Life Esidimeni. We were very happy with him there. But then the forced removals happened — I call it forced removals because it was like the forced removal during apartheid,” Maboe said.
When Maboe arrived to visit his son one day in June 2016, security informed him that they didn’t know where his son was. Maboe then made contact with Section27, which is representing 54 other families during the arbitration hearings.
A few days later he got a call from a number he did not know.
“... I heard some faint voice on the other end of the line and I asked who it was. He said: ‘Pappa, it’s Billy.’ It made me so happy to hear his voice,” he said.
Maboe made arrangements to visit his son on the Saturday, but when he arrived he was shocked at the condition of his son in and the facility.
Joseph said during the middle of the next week he was phoned and informed that his son wasn’t well and had been taken to hospital. After struggling to get access to the hospital “... eventually they said: ‘We’re sorry, Billy died around 2.30 pm’ ... I was stunned,” he said.
Billy’s death certificate states lower respiratory tract infection as cause of death.
Joseph said he is planning on attending the arbitration hearing into the deaths of 118 patients until the end and might be called on to tell Billy’s story. — News24.