“He didn’t receive any letter,” said Gauteng provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe.
“They [Wits University occupational students] wrote to the Department of Health and copied it to the Office of the Premier,” he said.
However the premier’s office referred it back to the department. As such, “the premier never saw the letter”, said Masebe.
On Sunday, DA MPL Jack Bloom released extracts of the letter apparently sent in January last year by University of the Witwatersrand occupational therapy students who had worked at the Esidimeni centre as part of their studies.
“We are concerned that these patients, who are already vulnerable, will be at risk of abuse and injury should they be discharged from Waverley,” he quotes the students as saying.
DA MP Wilmot James also released a statement in which he quoted the students as saying they were “deeply aggrieved by news of the closure of the Waverley Care Centre and are writing with the hope that the closing of this crucial facility may be prevented”.
Earlier this year, the health ombudsman revealed that at least 94 patients had died after being moved from the health care facility to 27 non-government organisations across the province.
The patients died of thirst, hunger and cold, after being transferred when the department cancelled the centre’s contract as part of cost-cutting measures.
Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu stepped down in the wake of the scandal.