JOHANNESBURG - More effort is needed to find the remaining 20 missing Life Esidimeni patients, including publication of their names and photographs, Jack Bloom, Democratic Alliance MPL in Gauteng, said on Thursday.
“I am revealing today the list that has been disclosed by the Gauteng Health Department in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature” he said in a statement
Bloom said the table has the full names of 17 of the patients, their dates of birth, and their date of discharge from the Esidimeni facilities - either Randwest, Randfontein, Waverley or Witpoort.
But in one case, all that is disclosed was that “Male Child David, born on 1/1/1978” was at an unknown facility, and no further detail on when and where he was discharged is disclosed. In another case, a female patient was identified with the strange first name of “5 Nozi” but no surname, born on 1/1/1914, and discharged from the Randfontein facility on 3 June 2016 to the Mosego NGO.
He said an “Unknown Male”, born on 1/1/1940, was discharged from Randfontein on 29 June 2016 to the Cullinan Centre. In six cases, there is no information to which NGO the patient was sent to. In other cases, the patients were sent to NGOs where patient deaths occurred, including Mosego, Rebafenyi and Tshepong.
"I am concerned that the three patients sent to Tshepong could have died and been secretly buried, as it is known that this NGO did six illegal burials of Esidimeni patients without death certificates and may have done more.
"There is one case where Mr Aaron Motha was discharged from the Waverley Care Centre on 21 May 2016 to his home but they don’t have contact details of the family," said Bloom.
According to Bloom, Faith Mazibuko, the acting Health MEC, had said that delays in finding the missing patients are because “available contacts are old and numbers are not answered” and “some facilities are slow in responding.”
He added that she also said that some leads are still being followed, SAPS is assisting and they are trying to locate those who are receiving South African Social Security Agency grants.
"I am distressed that the Department has not made more effort to find the patients by publicising the names and the photographs that are available in some cases," said Bloom.
According to him, Mazibuko said that that some patients “did have photographs on their files which can be obtained to assist in locating patients”.
"I am releasing the names today and I call on the Department to make the photographs publicly available as soon as possible."
Bloom said the Esidimeni nightmare, which was caused by arrogance, cruelty and corruption, will not be over until every patient was accounted for and the perpetrators were punished in court.
At least 144 mentally ill patients died after the Gauteng health department moved about 1,700 patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to unsuitable NGO and state facilities in 2016.
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African News Agency (ANA)