Buri­als de­layed as mor­tu­ary go-slow con­tin­ues

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - NOKUTHULA ZWANE nokuthula.zwane@inl.co.za @Zwane_2li2ls

WITH each day that passes, the crowd out­side the Diep­kloof Foren­sic Pathol­ogy Ser­vices in Soweto grows in num­bers.

Some have trav­elled from as far as the Eastern Cape so they can re­trieve their rel­a­tives’ bod­ies to take them home for burial.

It has been as long as two weeks for some of them.

Yes­ter­day, the crowd of about 30 stood around in clumps, ea­gerly await­ing news that post-mortems had been con­ducted on the bod­ies of their loved ones.

But they had to watch help­lessly as more bod­ies were be­ing brought into the mor­tu­ary, while no in­for­ma­tion was forth­com­ing re­gard­ing the post-mortems or whether there was an end in sight to the go-slow by lab­o­ra­tory work­ers, who have re­fused to per­form any au­top­sies.

The work­ers have downed tools, say­ing con­duct­ing post-mortems fell out­side the scope of their du­ties and that they de­served to be com­pen­sated for it.

But for peo­ple like Saziso Beja, whose 41-year-old brother was electrocuted af­ter an il­le­gally con­nected ca­ble fell on him in Klip­town last week, the pro­tracted strike is in­ten­si­fy­ing their pain.

They are un­able to make fu­neral ar­range­ments or fi­nalise de­tails of how their brother’s body will be trans­ported to Qumbu in the Eastern Cape.

A fam­ily spokesper­son, who iden­ti­fied him­self only as Mondli, said: “We were promised that they (foren­sic health of­fi­cials) would be work­ing dur­ing the week­end.

“But now we are told that only 14 bod­ies have been checked.

“If we cry now, it’s like we are soft. It will make mat­ters worse for those we have left at home, be­cause we need to be strong for them, even though things are be­ing de­layed,” Mondli added.

Also af­fected by the go-slow is 15-year-old Thando Maz­ibuko’s fam­ily mem­bers, who had had to post­pone their son’s burial.

Last week, The Star re­ported how Thando was stabbed with a screw­driver fol­low­ing a night out with friends in the Joburg CBD.

Thando’s fa­ther, God­knows Maz­ibuko, said he had been wait­ing for the re­lease of his son’s body at the Hill­brow mor­tu­ary for over a week and was only at­tended to yes­ter­day.

“We re­ceived the body at around 1pm and now a pri­vate un­der­taker has the body.

“We are go­ing through the fi­nal stages where we need to get the death cer­tifi­cate from Home Af­fairs,” said Maz­ibuko.

He added that the fam­ily had ar­ranged for the fu­neral to take place last week­end, but due to the govern­ment mor­tu­ary hold­ing on to the body, the burial ar­range­ments had to be post­poned to this week­end. A foren­sic of­fi­cer, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, told The Star yes­ter­day that they had stopped do­ing work that they were not paid to per­form, which in­cluded the dis­sect­ing and stitch­ing of bod­ies.

“This is a go-slow of work­ers be­cause we are fac­ing chal­lenges while try­ing to en­gage with the Health De­part­ment for a long time.

“We are dis­sect­ing and stitch­ing the bod­ies and we are not trained to do that.

“And we are not recog­nised with any cer­tifi­cate to show that we are qual­i­fied to do (bod­ies). The doc­tors are the ones who go to school and are trained for that,” said the dis­grun­tled of­fi­cial.

Yes­ter­day, the SANDF de­ployed sev­eral of its mem­bers to the Hill­brow Foren­sic Pathol­ogy Ser­vices to en­sure that work con­tin­ued.

Gaut­eng health spokesper­son Khutso Raboth­ata had ini­tially promised to re­lease a state­ment on the mat­ter, but last night he an­nounced they had sus­pended their state­ment, “so we are not com­ment­ing to­day”.


FU­NER­ALS POST­PONED: Peo­ple wait in vain out­side the mor­tu­ary in Diep­kloof, Soweto, yes­ter­day.

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