29 Esidimeni patients still at NGOs

Twenty-nine mental health patients who were formerly with Life Esidimeni are still residing in six NGOs where they were transferred last year.

This was disclosed today by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

Ramokgopa said that these patients and their families refused relocation and her department was engaging with them in this regard.

R6 million has been allocated by the National Health Department to assist with the transfer process, but no money has yet been paid to relatives of the deceased patients as a process was being followed in this regard as recommended by the Health Ombudsman.

The Gauteng Health Department has done well in transferring more than 800 patients to facilities that comply with the required standards.

I can understand that there are a small number of patients who are happy with the NGOs where they are currently, which is not a problem so long as these NGOs are properly licensed.

But I am disappointed at the slow process of restitution which would include monetary compensation to relatives of the deceased patients, bearing in mind that no amount of money can compensate for the trauma that they have suffered.

Ramokgopa claims that the relatives have received support in various ways but would not confirm whether they were even assisted with funeral costs.

There is unfortunately a long way to go before there is a full resolution of the outstanding issues of the Esidimeni tragedy, including the prosecution of all those responsible for more than 100 deaths.