Bod­ies should be home by month-end

CityPress - - News - FES­TUS ERIYE in LA­GOS news@city­press.co.za

The bod­ies of the 80 South Africans who died when the Synagogue Church of all Na­tions guest­house col­lapsed in La­gos, Nige­ria, last month, could be on their way home by the end of the month. This was ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor John Oba­funwa, the foren­sic pathol­o­gist over­see­ing the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process.

“We are look­ing at three weeks,” said Oba­funwa, the chief med­i­cal ex­am­iner of La­gos State and vice-chan­cel­lor of the state univer­sity. “I would be sur­prised if we had to wait till Novem­ber. But let us even be out­ra­geous about pro­jec­tions – I ex­pect all the bod­ies to be out by that time. Thein­quest­could­drag­on­for­weeks and months. But we’re not go­ing to de­lay the re­lease of bod­ies to fam­ily mem­bers be­cause of that.”

Speak­ing from La­gos Univer­sity Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal, where some of the re­mains are be­ing kept, Oba­funwa said au­top­sies on the 116 who died were com­plete and sam­ples were shipped out for DNA anal­y­sis this week.

A South African team worked with the Nige­ri­ans from Septem­ber 22 to 24, han­dling the fin­ger­print­ing as­pect of the task.

Oba­funwa said the process of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion had been slow be­cause Nige­ria did not have fa­cil­i­ties to an­a­lyse DNA.

The DNA anal­y­sis was be­lieved to be un­der­taken in South Africa, though Oba­funwa did not con­firm this in or­der not to “put them un­der pres­sure”. He ad­mit­ted the South African High Com­mis­sioner has of­fered to ap­ply pres­sure to speed up the process.

He had a mes­sage for anx­ious South African fam­i­lies who can­not un­der­stand the de­lays: “We feel your pain.”

But he in­sisted things had to be done prop­er­ly­toavoid­in­flict­ing­more­suf­fer­ing on the griev­ing. “When it comes to dis­as­ter vic­tim iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, cer­tain pro­to­cols must be fol­lowed and that’s what we’re do­ing. We won’t rush into just giv­ing out bod­ies.

“We don’t want a sit­u­a­tion where a body is re­leased to a fam­ily only for them todis­cover­they­don’thavetheright­body. The­griefre­sult­ingfromthat­could­bev­ery bad.”

Oba­funwa dis­missed as “balder­dash” me­dia claims that the bod­ies were de­com­pos­ing­be­cause­of­poor­con­di­tions of morgues and in­suf­fi­cient ca­pac­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to him, South African med­i­cal­team­swereim­pressed­bythe­fa­cil­i­ties.

Hein­sist­ed­his­team­tookunusu­al­steps to pre­vent fur­ther de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the bod­ies re­cov­ered from the guest­house.

Pro­fes­sor John Oba­funwa

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.