Mentally ill patient just 'vanished'

Sakhile Mokoena

Sakhile Mokoena

Health authorities in Mpumalanga are investigating the disappearance of a mental patient from a hospital last week.

Thomas Mhlongo, 39, disappeared from Matikwana Hospital in Mkhuhlu two weeks after being admitted for mental observation.

Police spokesman Constable Sydney Tshuketana said the patient was believed to have jumped over the hospital fence during the night.

"It was only discovered in the morning when his family came to check on him and the search started," said Tshuketana.

Though police said Mhlongo was not aggressive, his wife said he could be violent and at times stripped naked in public.

Lindiwe Mhlongo said when her husband "escaped" from the hospital he got into a house next to the hospital and the owner called the police and an ambulance.

"Both the police and ambulance service delayed until he had disappeared and now he is missing," she complained.

Provincial health spokesman Mpho Gabashane said they were investigating the circumstances surrounding Mhlongo's disappearance.

"Details of the patient's disappearance are still sketchy and we are investigating," Gabashane said.