I am most distressed that 44 former Life Esidimeni mental health patients have still not been located, as confirmed yesterday by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an oral reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Ramokgopa, 30 of the missing patients were supposed to have been sent to NGOs, 6 to their families, 5 to the Cullinan Care Centre, one to Weskoppies Hospital and the destination of two others is unknown.
The names of three of the patients are unknown, and four others have incomplete names.
Ramokgopa claims that her department is “sparing no effort” in finding these patients which she says has declined from more than 60 when the Esidimeni arbitration hearings began to the 44 still missing today.
But this is actually poor progress more than 18 months after the disastrous transfers from Esidimeni.
Nine of the missing patients are still receiving a grant from SASSA, but even they have not been traced.
Ramokgopa refused to respond to my suggestion that photographs should be provided to assist in finding the missing patients, which is the best way for the public and the media to assist in locating them.
I fear that it is increasingly unlikely that all the missing patients will be found, many of whom can be presumed dead because they cannot have survived long without proper care.
We may sadly never know the true death toll for which there should be accountability in court with charges that should include culpable homicide and murder.