In 2015, South Africa’s Department of Health terminated a contract with private healthcare provider, Life Healthcare. Around 1 300 mental health patients were moved to decentralised NGOs.
In September 2016, a few of them were reported dead. The media and authorities soon realised that over 140 patients had died since March that year.
We, the public, later found out that they died from thirst and hypothermia.
140 mental health patients, people who might have lived normal lives if they could afford the right treatments, died purely from neglect; alone, with no family to ask after them.
Rather than have their breath caught in this moral gut-punch, authorities immediately tried to say it wasn’t their fault. Rather than lowering their heads in a moment of silence, they frantically got their papers in order for the coming inquiries.
Take a moment to take in Wikipedia’s summary.
The responsible figurehead is not being prosecuted.
I wonder at how people reconcile this with their faith. How does God allow something so monstrously cruel? How do we call Him a saviour when 140 people, so crippled by mental illness that they couldn’t look after themselves, were fed into a broken bureaucracy that couldn’t recognise them as human beings?
I think I know why.
Either we put it in faith because it’s a callously easy way to avoid thinking on the enormity of the tragedy, or we’re so crushed by its weight on our spirits that we need to shift it out of reality and into the spiritual realm just to cope with such senseless suffering.
In either case, we avoid truth for the sake of sanity. In this case, I get it.