Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa has confirmed that 17 mental health patients who were discharged after the provincial health department cancelled its contract with hospital group Life Esidimeni have still not been found.
More than 140 patients died after 1,711 patients were moved from Life Esidimeni homes into ill-equipped and unlicensed NGOs around Gauteng in 2016.
Ramokgopa gave an update on the search for missing patients in an oral reply to questions by DA MPL Jack Bloom in the Gauteng legislature on Tuesday.
She said that four missing patients had been traced with help from the department of home affairs, reducing the total number of unaccounted-for patients from 21 to 17. She added that the department of health was doing all it could to track down the remaining patients.
But Bloom responded: “I am unconvinced that the department has done everything it could in speedy time to find the patients. According to Ramokgopa, they are only now planning to go back to Life Esidimeni to check the ID numbers and the names of the patients. Why wasn’t this done before?” he asked.