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.