Dr Gwen Ramokgopa. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa was on Wednesday urged to publicise information on the 21 missing Life Esidimeni patients to help trace their whereabouts. 

DA shadow health MEC Jack Bloom said this in reaction to Ramakgopa's appeal for assistance in finding the missing mental health patients.

Ramokgopa said in 2017 the department had successfully transferred 750 patients from unlicensed non-governmental organisations (NGOs). 

However the difficulties in finding the 21 patients was due to poor record keeping during the project which left the department with very little and unverified information.

Bloom said it was likely the missing patients had died since two years had passed without them receiving the care they needed. 

"It's unlikely they survived this long, they need care as mental health patients.

"It may be that some died and were secretly buried by the NGOs [that took them in]. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is looking into this."

Bloom implored Ramokgopa to make as much information on the patients public, adding that "good time" had already been lost in trying to to trace them.

 He added that the matter can not be put to rest until the remaining patients are accounted for. 

"We can't draw a line on the Esidimeni tragedy until everyone is accounted for," he said. 

Bloom concluded by saying the terrible fate of the missing patients should be added to the charges faced by the perpetrators who should be tried and punished in court as soon as possible.

Additional reporting by African News Agency (ANA)