Raymond gets justice at last

11 May 2011 – It took five months for authorities to realize that Raymond Khumalo, a mentally challenged Soweto man, needs medication urgently. In those five months, Raymond had to experience the harsh realities of prison life. Ananias Ndlovu writes for TimesLive.

He was kept at Medium A section of the Johannesburg Correctional Centre while waiting for a bed at a psychiatric hospital. Last month, Times LIVE highlighted his plight after he was continuously beaten for not being able to pay for his prison bed and now authorities have reacted.

It is common that awaiting trial prisoners have to pay other prisoners – with cigarettes, phone cards or food – for the privilege of not having to sleep on the floor. Even if Raymond cannot understand why he is been locked up – his mother is happy that he has been moved to the hospital section of the prison.

Virginia Khumalo, 61, has been trying to make authorities aware that her 28-year-old son, Raymond, was in danger of getting into trouble with other prisoners and urgently needs to take his medication.

She told court officials, police and prison authorities but not one could listen. Khumalo said when she visits Raymond in prison – he always asks her why he was there. Raymond was arrested in December last year after he allegedly hit someone. The man, 61, who was since been admitted at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, unfortunately died.

Now prosecution still has to decide if Raymond’s initial assault charge could be changed to murder or culpable homicide. But still – Raymond needs to undergo psychiatric evaluation before he could stand trial. And according to Lebogang Dlamini from the Sterkfontein Psychiatrist Hospital, there is still no bed available for him. The ward that is utilized by ATDs can only accommodate 30 patients and it takes up to 30 days to treat one patient.

“We take our patients according to the list. Currently we have more than 100 people on our list and we only take a person when a bed is available,” said Dlamini. But that is no longer a major worrying factor for Khumalo. “I am very happy my son is getting treatment and for the last five months no one wanted to listen. My son was really loosing it. When I visit him in prison he always asks me what he was doing there and that clearly shows that he needed his medication. I am happy that he was moved to the hospital section of the prison and now he can get help,” said Khumalo. Raymond has been receiving treatment at Orlando clinic since 2004. He has been given cloxipol injection, espiradal, revotril and Lethea tablets every month. He is expected to appear in the Orlando Magistrate Court on May31.

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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