Wednesday, May 18, 2022

21 Life Esidimeni patients still missing

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The DA said it was sad that many of these patients have likely lost their lives, joining the 144 other patients who died.
The Gauteng member of the executive council (MEC) for Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa on Tuesday pleaded with the public to assist SAPS and the department of health in finding 21 missing Life Esidimeni mental health patients.

“Despite working with various state departments and law enforcement agencies, the department is determined to make head-way in accounting for the remaining 21 discharged patients from Life Esidimeni between 2015 – 2016,” said Ramokgopa.

She 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.

 Life Esidimeni patients

“As a department we are concerned about the status quo and we therefore call on citizens to cooperate with police to assist with location of these patients. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to make sure that all are accounted for,” said Ramokgopa.

Ramokgopa said that to date, state agencies approached include home affairs, South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa), the social development department and the SAPS.

Working with hospitals in the Gauteng and other provinces and the non-profit organisations over 100 unaccounted for names were resolved, other patients were already with their families.

“We will continue to spare no effort in working with Special Investigating Unit and other state departments to ensure we close this chapter on this tragic episode,” said Ramokgopa.

She said that as part of the Mental Health Awareness Month, last week the department hosted a successful Mental Health Summit in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni where various stakeholders charted a way forward on the continuous provision of mental health services in the province.

“The fight against mental illness needs a collective effort from all sectors of society to assure our people of quality care when needed, we are also establishing family committees in facilities that care for mental health users,” said Ramokgopa.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it was sad that many of these patients have likely lost their lives, joining the 144 other patients who died.

“I am astonished that Ramokgopa claims that there have been “no delays” in finding the patients as it is now more than two years since they disappeared. It seems that the department has met a dead end in finding the remaining patients as the number has not come down since July this year when I was told that there were 20 patients still missing,” DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said.

Bloom said 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.

Source: eNCA

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