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Social Work

On-line version ISSN 2312-7198
Print version ISSN 0037-8054


ORNELLAS, Abigail  and  ENGELBRECHT, Lambert K.. The Life Esidimeni crisis: why a neoliberal agenda leaves no room for the mentally ill. Social work (Stellenbosch. Online) [online]. 2018, vol.54, n.3, pp.296-308. ISSN 2312-7198.

The Life Esidimeni crisis in South Africa is a shocking tragedy in which an estimated 141 mental health patients died after being transferred to some unlicensed non-government organisations (NGOs), as a result of the termination of a government-subsidised contract. The subsequent public arbitration hearings cast blame upon certain individuals, but left the deinstitutionalisation process untouched. Though these individuals must be held to account, we argue that the greater overarching process of deinstitutionalisation needs to be questioned. While the concept of deinstitutionalisation holds merit, it has been co-opted by a neoliberal agenda. Underlying the Life Esidimeni crisis are neoliberal tenets of economic prioritisation, self-responsibility and the removal of the state from service delivery

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