Documentary about the next Life Esidimeni to air on eNCA


JOHANNESBURGHealth-e News and Grocott’s Mail are proud to announce the debut of their shocking documentary on Tower Psychiatric Hospital in Fort Beaufort, Eastern Cape. Just as Health Ombudsmen Malegapuru Makgoba heads to Tower, this documentary comes to life.

The documentary features an exclusive interview with whistleblower and former Tower psychiatrist, Dr Kiran Sukeri, along with former staff members and families of patients who have died and suffered at the hands of facilities meant to protect them.  Sukeri blew the whistle about alleged human rights violations and mismanagement at the hospital in early March of this year before he resigned. Since then, investigations by the Eastern Cape MEC for Health and the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) have taken place.

SASOP found the seclusion rooms at Tower to be of “high-risk” to patients, and the handwritten death registers to be of serious concern. Health-e television producer Bernadette Maguire and Grocott’s Mail journalist Kathryn Cleary investigated these issues further, and bring their horrific discoveries to the screen.

The documentary aptly named “The Writing on the Wall” explores the haunting rhetoric etched into the prison like seclusion rooms at Tower hospital – the biggest psychiatric facility in the Eastern Cape.

 “A sane person would go insane being in that space,” says Cleary, who is still haunted by the words etched into the wall. 

Phrases like “people will scream in terror” and “the animals will moan in hunger” litter the grimy walls of the isolated spaces where patients were often kept for days on end.

Viewers can expect an up-close and personal inside look into the hospital’s grim take on rehabilitation and patient care. And with rumours of a cover-up and an allegedly tyrannical CEO, Maguire and Cleary spoke to staff and families whose trust in the institution is non-existent.

 “The facilities are meant to be focussed on rehabilitation but they are anything but. I hope that this documentary will open the eyes of government and authorities to revolutionise care for our most vulnerable in society – those who are mentally ill.”  

Along with insight into the crisis at Tower Hospital, the documentary puts a spotlight on to the whole of the Eastern Cape- detailing what could be the next Life Esidimeni tragedy. Three families explain their own horror stories; a patient who was locked in a seclusion room and set himself on fire, another patient who was beaten by staff, and one patient whose life was carelessly lost.

Crisscrossing the province, from Tower, to Fort England in Grahamstown, to Cecilia Makiwane in East London, this documentary about the next Life Esidimeni is not to be missed. The film will air on eNCA’s current affairs show Checkpoint in two episodes, the first on 12 June and the second, 19 June.

Read the latest news about Tower Hospital here:

Health MEC welcomes Ombud probe of Tower*

Tower CEO retires while investigations continue

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