62 Life Esidimeni patients are missing

JANUARY 22, 2018. Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu appears before the Esidimeni arbitration hearings probing the deaths of at least 143 mentally ill patients.
JANUARY 22, 2018. Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu appears before the Esidimeni arbitration hearings probing the deaths of at least 143 mentally ill patients.
Image: ALON SKUY

The Gauteng health department has asked mental health NGOs to check whether they are giving care to people on a list of 62 missing Life Esidimeni patients - but seven are not even properly named.

This was revealed on Friday by Jack Bloom‚ the Democratic Alliance's member of the provincial legislature‚ responsible for monitoring the health sector.

He said the request was sent via email on Tuesday this week with the heading: “Life Esidimeni cohort 62 patients not located”.

The full names of 55 patients are given‚ with ID numbers in most‚ but not all‚ cases.

In three cases only a first name is known and in another case only the surname‚ said Bloom.

There is no name at all for three of the missing patients - all that is known about them is that two are female and one is male‚ and their dates of birth are given.

"I am appalled that a year after the Health Ombudsman’s report on the Esidimeni tragedy‚ so many patients are still unaccounted for‚ and may never be found‚ especially those whose names aren’t even known.

"This email to NGOs is a sad and belated attempt to track down all the patients who were discharged from Esidimeni.

"I doubt that many of them will be traced‚ and they could all be dead as they would not be able to survive without decent care."

The arbitration hearings into the relocation of patients from Esidimeni facilities into poorly equipped NGOs resumed in Johannesburg this week‚ chaired by Justice Dikgang Moseneke. An estimated 143 mentally ill patients died after the move.

Former Gauteng Heath MEC Qedani Mahlangu testified on Thursday that she was prepared to take the “political blame"‚ adding: “I cannot carry personal blame. I was not working for myself.”

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