Burial scandal unfolds in Life Esidimeni saga
Naledi Shange | 2017-02-17 12:57:04.0
Bertha Molefe, who lost her daughter breaks down during the media briefing by the Health Ombudsman to announce the final report on the Life Esidimeni psychiatric patients’ deaths on February 01, 2017 in Pretoria. File photo
Image by: Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla
A Pretoria NGO contracted to take in mentally ill patients from Life Esidimeni reportedly gave private burials for those who died without telling the patients’ families.
According to the Democratic Alliance‚ six Tshepong NGO patients had private funerals.
“Ms Karina Morale‚ who runs the Tshepong NGO in Pretoria‚ has admitted that her organisation buried six of the 10 patients who died there‚” DA MP Jack Bloom said.
“She says the Gauteng Health Department knows they gave them private burials rather than pauper burials so they could show any family members where they were buried‚ but she won’t reveal where they are buried‚” said Bloom.
The NGO claimed to have failed to contact the families of patiends who died as they had reportedly been transferred from Life Esidimeni without records.
But both the Gauteng health department and the office of Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi claimed to have been unaware of this.
“We are not aware of this and we just heard of this on our WhatsApp group‚” said national health department spokesperson Joe Maila.
“These are allegations that need to be further investigated‚” Maila told TMG Digital.
This is the latest development in the saga where more than 100 mentally ill patients died in 27 unlicensed NGOs after being moved from Esidimeni.
The patients died from neglect‚ cold‚ starvation and dehydration. Meanwhile‚ the police were battling to identify 19 patients whose unclaimed bodies remain at mortuaries.
Motsoaledi said in one case‚ fingerprints linked a body to a family but when police visited the family‚ they denied knowing the person.
The family also refused to give the police DNA samples to help identify the body.