The Life Esidimeni Randfontein Care Centre. File picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/ANA

Johannesburg - A tearful Ntombifuthi Dladla gave a heart wrenching account of how she had to identify his brother's badly decomposed body, after the family was only notified by the state months after he had died.

Dladla said her brother Joseph Gumede, who she was very close to, died at Anchor Centre, an NGO in Cullinan, Pretoria. She was only informed this year by social worker Daphney Ndhlovu about her brother's death that took place in July 2016.

''I asked her 'do you hear what you are saying? Why are you telling me only now?,'' she said, before she asked Ndhlovu where the corpse had been stored for over six months.

Ndhlovu told her Gumede's body was at a government mortuary in Mamelodi. She said she forced Ndhlovu to break the news herself to their mother, who had suffered a stroke due to Gumede's illness. Her mother did not take the news well and had to be taken to a doctor, she added.

Ndhlovu said she took her brother to Esidimeni because he had become aggressive and had broken windows at her mother's home. He would sometimes disappear from home and roamed the streets for some time, she added.

Dladla said Ndhlovu told her they had to travel to Mamelodi together so that she could identify Gumede's body.

''It hurt me the way my brother's body looked like...his body was decomposed and had a bad smell. The morgue was hot, we were requested to wear masks because of the bad smell in there,'' Dladla said as she broke down in tears on Tuesday.

She then had to return to the mortuary to take Gumede's body home. The undertaker did not bring a hearse for the corpse, instead he arrived with his two assistants in a minibus taxi, she added.

''We traveled with my sister, and drove back all the way from Mamelodi to Soweto with my brother's decomposed body...I wished that the driver would not stop at traffic lights because every time he stopped, flies would pour into the taxi because of the bad smell.''

The worst was not over for the family as they prepared to bury Gumede.

''We left him at the undertaker on Monday. I received a call from the owner on Tuesday requesting me to come to his office. I told her I couldn't because I was preparing for the burial,'' said Dladla.

''He told me it was difficult to clothe my brother's body as there were maggots coming out of his body. He suggested that we buy blankets so he can wrap his body instead.''

She said regretted taking her brother to Esidimeni after she survived the streets without him being discovered dead by strangers.

''I tried to give my brother a place of safety so that he would not end up dead by the side of the road, but it seemed I signed up death for him. I am even afraid to look my family in the eye because I am the one who took him to Life Esidimeni...it seems I sent him to his death. My brother would disappear but survived the streets as we were able to find him,'' she said, sobbing uncontrollably. 

When she asked for her brother's medical file, Ndhlovu told her Gumede was transferred to Pretoria without his medical records.

The arbitration, chaired former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, resumes on Thursday. Moseneke is unavailable on Wednesday.