An Eastern Cape family is desperate to find an ill relative who disappeared under mysterious circumstances from East London’s Frere Hospital in December.
Johnny Boeties White, who is a cancer patient, was captured on CCTV cameras leaving the hospital on his own on December 22.
The provincial health department’s patient transport vehicle took him from the Fort Beaufort Hospital to Frere for treatment. But he has been missing ever since.
His brother-in-law Hendrik Swartbooi said he had been trying to track him down at both hospitals.
“I called them on the same day [December 22] and Frere promised to check what had happened there. I’ve had 20 different stories on what happened to Johnny.
“The quality assurance person or manager at Frere promised me the world on January 25 and said they would come back to me.
“When she got back to me on January 28 she said the Frere wasn’t responsible.
“They [Frere] said Fort Beaufort was responsible. Frere denied that there was a Johnny White at the hospital that day and told me to stop calling them.
“When I last spoke to Fort Beaufort, they said they were doing their own investigation and according to them, the patient left for East London,” Swartbooi said.
White’s cousin in East London, Rosie White, went to Frere in January to find out what had happened to him.
“On January 8 I opened a missing persons report and they [SAPS] said they’d get back to me if they had any news. I went to Frere on January 22 and their security told me that nobody by that name had been there on that day.
“I got a lead from my cousin’s hospital folder that he had been there on the day and had been given an alternative date to come to the hospital on January 6,” Rosie White said.
“The police told me the morgue had been checked and Johnny wasn’t there, nor was he in the oncology ward.
“The CCTV was checked and it recorded that Johnny had left the hospital.
“We don’t know where he could have gone as he doesn’t know where we live now.
“He’s not mentally ill; he’s a cancer patient though I heard he was a bit confused on the day he left Fort Beaufort,” she said.
On the day of his disappearance White was wearing a white short-sleeve shirt underneath a pink shirt, a green jacket, khaki pants, brown shoes and a pinkish hat or cap.
He has a tattoo of a crying woman on his left leg, is of slender build and about 1.5m tall, brown in complexion and sports an afro. He is 48 years old.
Swartbooi said he had been in touch with the Fort Beaufort hospital since January 28.
“I’m in Cape Town and I can’t give my family clear answers about what happened.
“What is most painful is that his brother died recently and we have to bury him soon and I’ll be asked questions I can’t answer.
“We’re going through a tough time as a family,”
Provincial health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo confirmed White had been transported from Fort Beaufort to East London and dropped off.
“He [White] was attending an emergency there that required specialist care.
“The patient was seen by a doctor and given a second date for a review.
“When the patient transport vehicle came back to collect patients, this patient didn’t get on the bus.
“Following the complaint by the family, we did an investigation. CCTV footage at the hospital was checked and the patient could be seen walking out of the hospital.
“So EMS managers advised the family to check with other relatives within the East London area,” Kupelo said.