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Health Dept DG: 7 Esidimeni victims still need to be identified

Health Department Director-General Precious Matsoso is giving evidence this morning on the fourth day of the alternative dispute resolution process.

Health Department Director-General Precious Matsoso. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The national Health Department’s Director-General has revealed that the bodies of seven Esidimeni patients still need to be identified and their families traced.

Precious Matsoso is giving evidence on Thursday morning on the fourth day of the alternative dispute resolution process on the Esidimeni tragedy.

Between March last year and February this year, 118 patients died after the Gauteng Health Department terminated its contract with Esidimeni and transferred the patients to illegal non-governmental organisations.

Exactly 1,712 patients were moved from Esidimeni facilities.

WATCH LIVE: Esidimeni arbitration hearings

Matsoso says that of this number, 59 have not been accounted for and the department does not know where they are.

“Like I said, we wanted to account for each one of them. I’d like to put on record that we can’t say where the 59 are or who they are.”

She says seven people have died, but remain unidentified.

“They have passed on. Family members are yet to be traced.”

APOLOGY

An emotional Matsoso had to pause a couple of times to take sips of water as she looked at families gathered at the hearings.

She apologised for what happened in the Esidimeni case.

“At this point, personally, I will unreservedly apologise for the failures. Something like this should never happen again.”

Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke then told her the apology is appreciated.

“You know my views by now. I’ve mentioned them in the last four days. We need a responsive and caring government.”

Matsoso is the second senior government official to apologise during this arbitration process.

On Wednesday, Levy Mosenogi, who headed the Esidimeni project, had to speak over the emotional cries of family members as he apologised for his part.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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