Social Development remembers lives lost in Esidimeni

Persons with severe disabilities who are dependent on support services to live decent lives, are particularly vulnerable to being marginalised, excluded and discriminated against. In better case scenarios, they are cared for either by families or staff in institutions where they reside but with little prospect of experiencing life to the fullest.

In worst case scenarios, they live in inhumane and degrading circumstances both at home and in institutions due to system failures.

Earlier this year, 37 persons with psychosocial and/or intellectual disabilities were confirmed as having lost their lives following a decision to transfer them from Life Esidimeni hospitals in Gauteng to NGOs and/or place them with their families.

A national independent investigation has been instituted by Government and a number of cases have been opened with law enforcement agencies. Processes have also been put in place to verify the whereabouts and living conditions of the remaining approximately 1900 persons who were transferred.

In light of this national tragedy, the Minister of Department of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, together with civil society organisations resolved that the International Day of Persons with Disabilities for 2016 would not take the usual celebratory approach, but it will honour and commemorate the lives lost, and to recommit the country to upholding the rights of persons with severe disabilities.

The theme for the National IDPD2016 is: Upholding the rights of persons with disabilities as equal citizens – Living independently and being included in the community.

The focus will be on specific measures that are required to ensure that the rights of persons with psychosocial, intellectual and/or neurological disabilities are at all times promoted, protected and upheld, regardless of their age, gender, race, geographical location, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and/or cultural background.

Source: Government of South Africa.

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