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Esidimeni: Patient's body from NGO was decomposed when handed over

Joseph Gumede’s body was stored at the facility’s mortuary until August when officials there called the Mamelodi Hospital asking for help.

Manager of the Mamelodi Hospital mortuary Daniel Buda testifying at the Esidimeni arbitration hearing on 30 November 2017. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The manager of the Mamelodi Hospital mortuary has told the Esidimeni hearings that a corpse they received from one of the ill-equipped NGOs was already at an advanced stage of decomposition when it was handed over.

Daniel Buda was on the witness stand in Parktown, Johannesburg, on Thursday afternoon; he was called to testify by the State.

Buda says he was contacted by an official at the Cullinan Care and Rehab Centre in Pretoria, who asked for help storing the body of Joseph Gumede who died there in July last year.

Gumede was among the 143 psychiatric patients who died after being taken out of Life Esidimeni facilities and moved to ill-equipped NGOs.

Gumede’s body was stored at the facility’s mortuary until August when officials there called the Mamelodi Hospital asking for help because its morgue was over capacity and beginning to malfunction.

He was kept at the Mamelodi Hospital mortuary until February this year because officials at Cullinan failed to notify his family of his death until then.

Buda described the poor state Gumede's body was in when it arrived from Cullinan and confirmed it deteriorated further.

“When the body was collected by the family, it looked very bad. All that was left was skin and bones.”

The hearing continues on Friday.