Members of the Esidimeni Mountains Victims’ Families Committee say the slow pace of justice makes it almost impossible for them to find closure after losing their loved ones.

The committee will hold a healing session in Johannesburg on Saturday. The goal is for all the families of the fallen to support each other and remember their loved ones.

This is the first reunion in more than two years because the families were unable to meet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Life Esidimeni tragedy resulted in the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients in Gauteng from causes including starvation and neglect. The High Court in Pretoria is currently investigating the possibility of criminal liability for the deaths of patients after they were transferred from Life Esidemeni to ill-equipped and unlicensed NGOs in 2016.

A member of the committee, Christine Nxumalo, says they desperately need closure.

“The fact that it’s so slow, it hurts and hurts, and it makes recovery and getting over it and healing more difficult. But the fact that there is movement is encouraging. One of the things about South Africa, when justice moves so slowly, it doesn’t stop people from doing wrong things. This is what worries us, that when the vulnerable can die in such a horrible way, but when justice is to be served, it takes so long. But we can’t give up and I think that’s the one thing that keeps us going is that we can’t afford to give up,” says Nxumala.

Life Esidimeni mental health patients not treated with due care: expert

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