PRETORIA - An undertaker at a funeral parlour in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria has revealed that his facility was used to store bodies of some of the mentally ill patients who died after being transferred to unlicensed NGOs.
George Kotelo of Kotelo Funeral Services says he was approached by another undertaker whose funeral parlour had run out of space.
Kotelo became alarmed when many of the bodies went unclaimed for several months.
FULL REPORT: 94 mentally ill patients died
When he asked where the bodies had come from, the other undertaker could not explain, nor provide documents to identify the bodies.
"When I asked this guy where he found some of these white people, he didn't answer me. We fell out when the bodies spent more than two months in my fridges," Kotelo explained.
"The guy then confessed that he himself was struggling to locate identities of the bodies. That's when I found out about the Esidimeni patients."
Kotelo's revelation paints a grim picture of the tragedy that was detailed in a report by the health ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba.
The report titled 94 Silent deaths and still counting, documents the process in which the Gauteng Health Department mismanaged the transferral of mentally ill patients from private facility, Life Esidimeni to 27 unlicensed NGOs.
During the probe, Makgoba says he discovered gross mismanagement and illegal dealings. The ombud recommended the suspension of senior officials, including Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, followed by investigations into their fitness to hold their positions.