The owner of the Masego Home for the elderly‚ which is still housing three mentally ill patients moved from the care of Life Esidimeni‚ said on Tuesday that the patients had nowhere else to go, despite the Gauteng department of health’s declaration that it would move them.
“Since they were admitted to Life Esidimeni, 20 or 30 years back‚ these patients’ relatives were never there. I was once a matron at Life Esidimeni and they are very good at tracing the users’ families. It is on record that they were transferred to us as patients and it is stated that no family members or relatives were found and it was also difficult for us to find people who were never there for these patients‚” said Maletsatsi Mokgojoa.
She was speaking on PowerFM radio on Tuesday afternoon.
The three were found at her facility by Randfontein police officers after the DA’s Jack Bloom opened a missing person’s case to find them. They were part of a group of 62 former Life Esidimeni patients who could not be traced because they were transferred from the facility to unlicensed NGOs.
The home they were found in was one that Health Ombudsman Prof Malegapuru Makgoba had recommended be closed following the deaths of some of the patients following their move. The home‚ however‚ was allowed to stay open after it appealed against the ombudsman’s decision.
Tribunal Judge Bernard Ngoepe overturned the health ombudsman’s finding that patients had died in unlawful circumstances at Masego and another facility‚ the Takalani Home for Children. Ngoepe said there was a lack of proof as to how patients had died.
“The transfer of patients was rushed and, indeed, described as chaotic. There are no post-mortem reports. It is true that the environments were not ideal. But on the basis of the ombudsman’s report‚ it is not possible to conclusively say what the cause of the deaths was‚” his ruling read.
On Tuesday, Mokgotjoa said the tribunal ruled that “most of the findings by the ombudsman were unfounded”. She lambasted the ombudsman‚ saying he and his officials had failed to properly investigate her facility and never visited the home.
She said that it were accused of starving some patients‚ but this was not true as the patients were already in a dire condition when they arrived from Esidimeni.
Meanwhile‚ Makgoba’s office refused to comment on the latest developments at the facility‚ saying the matter was now being handled by the Gauteng department of health. Department spokesperson‚ Lesemang Matuka said they were still looking into the matter and would comment once all the facts had been established.