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By Chisom Jenniffer Okoye

Journalist


62 Esidimeni missing persons cases

Yesterday Jack Bloom, a Democratic Alliance member of Gauteng’s provincial legislature, began filing the reports.


Sixty-two untraced Life Esidimeni patients will now be officially listed as missing persons at the Johannesburg Central police station.

Yesterday Jack Bloom, a Democratic Alliance member of Gauteng’s provincial legislature, began filing the reports.

He is calling on the police to investigate the mysterious disappearance of dozens of mental patients who were transferred from the facility in 2016.

When former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was grilled recently at the Esidimeni hearings on her role in the transfer of about 1 700 mental patients to unlicensed and ill-equipped NGOs and the subsequent deaths of 146 patients, it emerged that she was warned of the risks of the move by the SA Depression and Anxiety Group, Section 27 and the SA Society of Psychiatrists.

However, when asked why she did not prevent the tragedy, Mahlangu shifted the blame to her senior managers.

Bloom added: “Far too little has been done to publicise and track down those who have been missing for more than 18 months since the Esidimeni tragedy unfolded.”

Bloom said many of the missing patients were likely to have died because “they would not have been able to survive long without decent care”.

“This could push the total Esidimeni death toll to more than 200 patients.”

Disability grants were being collected for some of the missing patients and he raised questions about who was receiving the grants and why they had not been tracked down.

“We know that some people saw this as a money-making exercise, whether they be alive or dead. “The nightmare is not over. We need to know where every single one has ended up, if they’re still alive.”

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