49 former Life Esidimeni patients still missing

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Police have found eight more former patients from Life Esidimeni who were listed as missing by the Gauteng Health Department have been found, leaving 49 untraced.

News24 reports that this is according to Democratic Alliance MPL Jack Bloom, who said four patients had been found at the Thuli Home Centre in Orange Farm, and another two at the San Michele Mental Institution in Kwa-Thema.

Bloom said one patient had been taken to an unknown institution and the eighth patient had been moved by her mother, who confirmed she was still alive.

“The police have now resolved 13 of the 62 missing person cases that I opened with them last month, including one who is deceased for unexplained reasons. This leaves 49 who still need to be found, 27 of whom do not have ID numbers and seven without full names, so it will be very difficult to trace them. The best way to find them would be by publicising any photographs that are available.” Bloom, however, said he was puzzled that the Health Department had not published photographs of the patients.

Five other patients were found last week.

The report says after more than 40 days of testimony, the alternative dispute resolution hearings wrapped up final arguments in January. In its arguments, Section27, which represented the families of more than 60 people who lost relatives, said the department had “a total disregard for human dignity”.

More than 140 mentally ill patients died after they were transferred from the Life Esidimeni Hospital to several NGOs across the province. Some of the NGOs were not qualified to house mentally ill patients. The uproar from the public forced government to fire and suspend those directly involved in the transfer.

The report says Gauteng Health spokesperson Lesemang Matuka could not be reached for comment.

News24 report

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