Maverick Citizen


Portraits of Lives Lost: They lied, he had a family who loved him

Portraits of Lives Lost: They lied, he had a family who loved him
Maggie Mosiane and her late brother, Caswell Mosiane. (Photo: Mark Lewis)

Maverick Citizen is running a series of weekly portraits of those who died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy and the stories of the loved ones left behind. Harriet Perlman, Darnell Nxumalo and photographer Mark Lewis have been interviewing families as part of an ongoing memorial and advocacy website.

The inquest into the Life Esidimeni tragedy will determine whether there can be any criminal liability for the deaths of 144 mental healthcare patients who died in the care of the South African public health system. The Gauteng health department wilfully ignored warnings that the move was reckless. The lives and stories of the people who died as a result of this horrific human tragedy matter. The bereaved families desperately want closure and justice. 

This photo was taken in 2015 during the Christmas holidays when Caswell Mosiane was spending time with his family.

Caswell was moved to Takalani, soon after the March 2016 court case. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group, the South African Society of Psychiatrists and affected families had litigated to try to stop the Gauteng health department from moving patients to Takalani. But the department misled the court and denied that these patients needed special mental healthcare services. The court ruled in the department’s favour.

One week later, the department started moving people out and on 26 March 2016 the first mental healthcare patient died at Takalani. Caswell was moved from Life Esidimeni in Randfontein to Takalani. He was there only a few weeks before he died. He was just 39. 

At the March court hearing, the department also said that patients who were being sent to Takalani did not have families. But this was not true.

“Our family was contacted before Caswell was moved,” Maggie says. “This proves the department knew. “We also received a call from Takalani to inform us that Caswell was in hospital. And they contacted us after his death. The department lied.”

Caswell had a family who loved him and the mystery around his death has left them angry and heartbroken. The death certificate states that he died of “natural causes”. But when Maggie’s mom examined Caswell’s body, she saw that her son’s face was badly bruised.

Maggie’s mom, Yvonne Martha Mosiane, desperately wanted to know the truth about what happened to her son. But she died without knowing. Maggie says Caswell’s death and the trauma around what happened to him left her mom emotionally and physically ill.

And Maggie feels the same way.

“I want to know what really happened to my brother. I will find peace when I know the truth of how he died.” DM/MC

This series of weekly portraits of those who died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy and the stories of the loved ones left behind are also available on the website


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