Precious Matsoso, director-general of health. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Precious Matsoso, director-general of health. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

There are 59 untraced people who were discharged from Life Esidimeni‚ who have not been found but are accessing pensions or disability grants.

This is according to National Department of Health director-general Precious Matsoso.

She was testifying at the arbitration hearings to unpack the Life Esidimeni disaster.

She said: "There are still 59 patients that have to be traced. They are drawing their Sassa [South African Social Security Agency] grants."

The implication of her statement is that they could be alive and being looked after, or they could be dead and NGOs and families could be using their money‚ without having reported them deceased.

Additionally‚ there are "seven corpses that are not yet identified and families still to be traced"‚ she said.

This means that more than 118 people died after being moved from Life Esidimeni.

After the ombudsman’s report into the disaster‚ health teams assessed patients in NGOs. They found some patients in NGOs that had never been in Life Esidimeni‚ but were not getting good care. About 70 extra patients were moved from unsuitable NGOs into better care.

Matsoso said: "There are NGOs that render reasonable services. There are NGOs that are not suitable."

There are about 5,000 psychiatric patients in NGOs across Gauteng‚ the judge at the hearing, Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, said.

The national Department of Health has asked the Gauteng departments of health and social development to assess all NGOs in the province that are looking after mentally ill people.

Matsoso said 1,712 were moved from Life Esidimeni and just over 350 people went to their families.

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