5 missing Life Esidimeni patients found
Johannesburg – Five of the more than 60 former Life Esidimeni patients who were classified as missing during the arbitration hearings have been found.
DA Gauteng member of the provincial legislature Jack Bloom said on Tuesday morning that he had been informed that five former Life Esidimeni patients were found, three of whom were residents at Mosego Home in Krugersdorp.
"I have been informed by the police that they have found five of the 62 patients that were listed as missing since they were discharged from Life Esidimeni in mid-2016," Bloom said.
"Three of these patients are at the Mosego Home in Krugersdorp, which the Health Ombudsman ordered closed after seven patients died there," he said.
One patient was discharged last year while another is recorded as having died. The details around this patient's death were not immediately available.
Bloom commended the police for finding some of the patients after he opened missing persons cases last week and said he would be writing to the department to place the patients in reputable institutions.
"And I hope further progress is made in finding the others."
Violation of dignity
Bloom said, however, that he was "horrified" to learn that three of the patients were found at an institution that was ordered to close immediately.
"I am horrified that three Esidimeni patients are still at one of the NGOs that Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba said should be closed 'immediately as their continuity poses high risk'," he said.
Bloom highlighted Makgoba's analysis of the conditions at the institution where patients were found to be hungry, thirsty, in pain and severely neglected.
Gauteng police were not immediately available for comment.
After more than 40 days of testimony, the alternative dispute resolution hearings wrapped up final arguments last week with Section 27, which represented the families of more than 60 people who lost relatives during the transfer of patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to various NGOs, saying the department had "a total disregard for human dignity".
"Dignity was violated in the most wanton and flagrant manner," Section 27's counsel said.