You killed my son: Esidimeni father

Christian Ngqondwana , the bereaved father of Vuyo Ngqondwana, one of the 141 patients who died after leaving the Life Esidimeni facility, said he and his wife are still trying to come to terms with the death of their son. Photo: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG - Family members related more heart-breaking stories at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings on Tuesday, calling for the former Gauteng MEC for health to be called to answer for their pain.

“This is the photo that has made me feel like crying," said Christian Ngqondwana, whose son Vuyo was one of the  114 psychiatric who died after being transferred from the Life Esidimeni hospital. 

"If you look at my son, this is not his colour, he has lost weight. I never believed, I even screamed,” Ngqondwana said.

He said he had taken his son for the usual Christmas holiday in December, not knowing that it would be the last.

WATCH: Emotional Esidimeni families testify at arbitration hearings

In February 2017 he received a call that his son had died in his sleep. A postmortem later revealed he had died of aspiration pneumonia.

“You killed him … because he was active yesterday and today he is dead.”

He told the hearing of his shock on hearing the news: “I was cold, I shivered, I cried like a baby.”

In the weeks that followed, the unemployed Ngqondwana had emptied his bank account making burial arrangements for his son.

He demanded that Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, who led the transfer of the patients to unlicensed facilities, appear at the hearings.

"My heart will never be at peace. My heart will never be at peace with Qedani Mahlangu until she tells us why she had to do this thing. To the citizens of this country. I am a citizen of this country. Qedani must come and explain to me why she had to take my son away to be killed. I need an explanation."

“My heart will never be at peace with Qedani Mahlangu until she comes here and tells us why she had to do this to the citizens of this country.”


Qedani resigned after the ombudsman released his report into the tragedy.

Ngqondwana said his wife looked at pictures of their son every night before bedtime and had still not come to terms with the death.

Christine Nxumalo told the hearing that she had struggled to find her sister's body.

"It took me weeks going back and forth. I ended up having to go to a police station and I had to open a case. I had to ask them to assist me in getting my sister’s body.


She said the founder of the NGO at whose facility her sister had died had been uncooperative.

“ I struggled to get any answers ... the manner in which she acted worries me because if, according to her, [my sister] died of natural causes, why was she hiding? She wouldn’t meet, she wouldn’t discuss anything. She didn’t offer any answers to us.”

Nxumalo never received the results of a postmortem.


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