Mystery memorial for Esidimeni victims

No one is sure who placed the memorial on the side of Main Road.


A memorial to the over-104 mentally ill Life Esidimeni patients – who passed away when they were moved from the facility last year – has appeared, seemingly overnight, on the side of Main Road in Kyalami and no one is quite sure where it came from.

Over 100 wooden crosses have been placed on the grassy patch on the side of the road, all surrounding a large red sign that reads: “Stop this depraved conduct. ESIDIMENI – 104 dead and counting.”

The monument is apparently in reference to the fate of hundreds of mentally ill patients who were moved to allegedly illegal mental health non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) after about 1 000 mentally ill people were moved from Life Esidimeni in eastern Johannesburg in June last year.

The Gauteng Health Department decided to move the patients to about 122 NGOs province-wide in order to save on costs. Almost immediately after the move, some of the patients died, although the causes of death have not all been confirmed.

Amid a national outcry, as the list of deaths grew to around 104, health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned.

Over the weekend of 4 March, Kyalami residents were reminded of the tragedy when the large sign and wooden crosses appeared on the side of the road.

“I myself only became aware of it when I drove past,” said Candice James, councillor for Ward 93.

Over 100 wooden crosses have been placed around a large sign decrying the deaths of Esidimeni patients who were moved to allegedly illegal NGOs.

“I have no idea who has placed [the memorial] there, but I want to find out as soon as possible. James also expressed plans to provide a platform for residents to honour the dead in the future. “I’m hoping to organise a vigil for patients in the near future, in their memory.”

Fourways Review will update this story as more facts come to light.

What are your thoughts on the Esidimeni debacle? Tell us your opinionsby emailing

Robyn Kirk

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