File picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/ANA

Johannesburg - Jack Bloom, the Democratic Alliance (DA) member of the provincial legislature on health, on Monday demanded to know the whereabouts of the more than 50 mentally ill patients, who went missing during the chaotic and tragic Life Esidimeni transfers. 

Earlier this year the Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba revealed that as many as 59 psychiatric patients could not be located after the tragic transfers that resulted in the deaths of 143 others. 

On Monday Bloom said he "was concerned that no new information had come to light about the missing patients". He said these patients were being paid disability grants that were being withdrawn.

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“They could be alive in good or bad circumstances, or they could be dead and NGOs and others could be using their money‚ without reporting them as deceased,” Bloom said.

He demanded answers as to how it was that so many patients discharged from Esidimeni last year could go missing without a trace.

“The Gauteng Health Department has been silent on what it is doing to trace and identify these patient,” said Bloom, adding: “We need to know what the department is doing so that all the 1,712 discharged Esidimeni patients are accounted for".

Meanwhile the arbitration hearing into the Esidimeni tragedy continues on Monday.