Father still hoping to find son transferred from Life Esidimeni alive

2017-02-16 15:29
Families of some of the psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni who died after being moved to various NGOs during a protest outside the Department of Health in Johannesburg in October in their memory. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Families of some of the psychiatric patients from Life Esidimeni who died after being moved to various NGOs during a protest outside the Department of Health in Johannesburg in October in their memory. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg - Moeketsi Makhubu doesn't even want to think about the possibility that his son might be one of the psychiatric patients who died after being transferred from Life Esidimeni clinics to NGOs contracted by the Gauteng health department. 

For months Makhubu has been trying to find out what happened to his son, Bongani, 26, Netwerk24 reported.

More than 100 mental health patients died after being transferred from Life Esidimeni to 27 NGOs. The NGOs were mostly unlicensed and not fit to care for the vulnerable.

Makhubu said he'd been informed in 2016 that the Life Esidimeni clinics in Gauteng would be closed down because the provincial health department could no longer afford having patients treated there. 

"They [Life Esidimeni] told me that I would be informed of where my son was being transferred to. However, I never heard from them again."  

The past few months have been a nightmare for him. Bongani's mother died and Makhubu said he was so distraught after her death that he'd been unable to look for him. 

READ: National dept kept in the dark in Esidimeni matter – Motsoaledi

'I want him near me'

He last saw his son before the patients were transferred to NGOs and state hospitals. He doesn't know where to start looking as he doesn't know who and where the NGOs are.  

"I'll be grateful if he is still alive. He is my child. I want him near me."

He said Bongani had overdosed on his mother's and his grandmother's pills when he was 19 and never recovered. He was admitted to the Life Esidimeni clinic in Randfontein as a psychiatric patient when he was 22. 

Bongani finds it difficult to walk and has to be fed and washed.

"He can't speak. All he does is stare into space. He doesn't even know us. He doesn't know I am his father," said Makhubu. 

Read more on:    life esidimeni  |  johannesburg  |  healthcare

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