After opening a missing person’s case in an effort to locate the 62 Life Esidimeni patients who had not yet been found, the DA Gauteng Shadow Member of the Executive Committee for Health and Member of the Provincial Legislature, Jack Bloom, was shocked when police said in a statement that three of these patients had been found at the Mosego Home in Krugersdorp, Krugersdorp News reports.
Mosego Home is a psycho-geriatric facility only accommodating people over the age of 55. According to Bloom, this is the home that Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba ordered to close after seven other former Esidimeni patients died there.
On Thursday, 15 February, Bloom and DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Health, Dr Neil Cambell, visited the non-government organisation to find out how the deaths occurred, why three patients are still there and what conditions are like for them and the other patients after the NGO won a tribunal appeal to retain its licence to operate.
With Bloom, Cambell, provincial health directorate officials and the Mental Health Review Board present in a meeting, the owners of the NGO continued to deny that the deaths of the patients were the result of neglect and lack of food, as claimed by relatives.
Mosego Home – a facility made up of eight neighbouring houses in the same street – received a total of 63 patients from Life Esidimeni during the 2016 project, in which the Gauteng Department of Health moved patients to different facilities. Bloom voiced his concern after seven patients died within only a few months of arriving at the facility.
“They received 63 Life Esidimeni patients and I am not sure if they were able to cope with the 200 patients they homed at the time. Seven out of these 63 patients died within a very short period of time. That is a very high and concerning rate in a very short period,” he said.
However, owners Dr Dorothy Sekhukhune and Mmaletsatsi Mokgojoa brushed off half of the allegations by claiming that three of the seven patients quoted in the Health Ombudsman’s report died in hospital, and not at Mosego Home.
Sekhukhune said that when the patients arrived at Mosego, they were on very high psychiatric medication dosages that caused various side-effects.
“We know the dangers of anti-psychotic drugs. You miss that when you are taking the person at face value when you are doing an assessment. We know that some of the medications given to patients can make them drop dead,” she said.
“And the patients were on high medication. It’s not normal for patients to be discharged on high medication. You first stabilise the drugs until they are at a manageable level. Hence we asked for their medical files, but we never received them.”
The patients arrived at the home with only a month’s supply of medication and no other information. Sekhukhune said further that she had no reason to single out and mistreat a selected few out of the 200 patients they were homing at the time.
“At any time you can come and check our groceries. You will find everything that is needed to feed the people,” Mokgojoa said.
The owners insisted that the report of the Health Ombudsman is not a true reflection of how the NGO is operated.
Bloom was very pleased that he was able to see everything that he wanted to see and to discover that Mosego possesses a genuine licence.
“My observation is that there are now reasonable living conditions for the 90 residents at Mosego, including the three former Esidimeni patients who were sent there prior to the mass transfers in 2016, who were inexplicably listed as missing before they were found by the police,” he said.
“However, the Mosego directors still need to be accountable for the seven Esidimeni deaths that occurred at their facility. This highlights the need for the police to get proper evidence to bring charges against those in charge at all the NGOs where patients died.”
He insisted that the police need to speed up the investigation into the 144 recorded Esidimeni deaths, including obtaining information from the post-mortems, which will provide indisputable evidence in order to obtain convictions of those responsible.