Des­per­ate bid to lo­cate miss­ing body

Trau­ma­tised fam­ily want an­swers

Weekend Witness - - News - SABELO NSELE

WHERE is our loved one’s body?

That’s what a Snathing fam­ily want to know after the body of their fam­ily mem­ber was lost at a gov­ern­ment morgue.

For al­most a month, the fam­ily have been look­ing for the body of Nku­l­uleko Dladla (36) in dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment mor­tu­ar­ies in KZN. This, as strike ac­tion has led to chaos at the mor­tu­ar­ies.

Dladla died of gun­shot wounds on Novem­ber 23 after po­lice ar­rived at his home to ap­pre­hend him. His fam­ily were told that his body was taken to Fort Napier mor­tu­ary.

Dladla’s un­cle, Mdu Md­a­bane, said they have looked ev­ery­where but they can­not find his body.

“This is heart­break­ing. I have been to Fort Napier on sev­eral oc­ca­sions and they can­not tell me where his body is.

“I have been to other mor­tu­ar­ies in How­ick, Grey­town, Mooi River and New Hanover and we can­not find his body. We have been sent from pil­lar to post and are told that reg­is­ters are miss­ing so they can­not lo­cate the body.

“We want his re­mains so we can lay him to rest. We have suf­fered a lot al­ready and it feels like our lives are on hold,” he said.

Md­a­bane said the search for his nephew’s body had been trau­matic.

“There are bod­ies that have been ly­ing there for years, some of them have turned black. It breaks my heart see­ing those bod­ies. The smell stays with you even when you have left the mor­tu­ary. It stays with you un­til you take a bath,” he said.

“We do not know if his body is in a safe place. Our big­gest fear is find­ing his body de­com­posed to a point where we will have to do a DNA test.

“We do not know who is try­ing to hide what by hid­ing his body.

“He had a dis­pute with his girl­friend and I think she opened a rape case against him. When po­lice ar­rived at the house, he did not be­lieve they were the po­lice and tried to run away think­ing he was be­ing at­tacked.”

But, Dladla was ap­par­ently shot on the back of his neck and on his chest. Md­a­bane said they were be­ing told that he shot him­self.

He asked how one could shoot one­self three times — once in the back of one’s neck.

“He did not have a gun when he was shot. The gun was found by a snif­fer dog ... with his body long gone to the mor­tu­ary,” he said.

Po­lice spokesper­son Cap­tain Nqo­bile Gwala said Dladla re­fused to come out of the house when or­dered to do so and fired at the po­lice.

She said the firearm he used was taken away by a fam­ily mem­ber and hid­den in the house “to clear the ev­i­dence”.

The fam­ily mem­ber was ar­rested for de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice, pos­ses­sion of an un­li­censed firearm and pos­ses­sion of am­mu­ni­tion. He ap­peared in court and was granted bail.

There’s been an in­quest and the at­tempted mur­der of po­lice of­fi­cers is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

Gwala said the body was taken by mor­tu­ary work­ers.

“The fam­ily was in­formed and the ar­range­ments were made to lo­cate the body be­cause the bod­ies were taken to dif­fer­ent mor­tu­ar­ies. The post-mortem will de­ter­mine the cause of death,” she said.

Work­ers at Fort Napier mor­tu­ary have been on go-slow for al­most a month, de­mand­ing bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions, salary in­creases and back-pay.

Spokesper­son for the KZN De­part­ment of Health Ncumisa Ma­funda said the de­part­ment had de­cided to trans­port bod­ies to other fa­cil­i­ties where au­top­sies could be done.

“While it is re­gret­table that the fam­ily in ques­tion has al­legedly so far not been able to lo­cate the body of a loved one, since this mat­ter has been brought to the at­ten­tion of head of­fice to­day [yes­ter­day], the de­part­ment — with val­ued as­sis­tance from Week­end Wit­ness — is in the process of link­ing the fam­ily with of­fi­cials who will pro­vide fur­ther as­sis­tance in this re­gard,” she said.

“The de­part­ment is con­fi­dent that clo­sure will soon be found re­gard­ing this mat­ter.”

Ma­funda said they apol­o­gised for de­lays re­gard­ing the com­ple­tion of au­top­sies, due to the go-slow by staff at some of its medico-le­gal mor­tu­ar­ies.

“The de­part­ment con­tin­ues to im­ple­ment a con­tin­gency plan to mit­i­gate the im­pact of the goslow, and ac­knowl­edges, with­out prej­u­dice, the trauma and in­con­ve­nience that such de­lays have had on fam­i­lies’ plans to bury their loved ones.” • [email protected]­ness.co.za Nku­l­uleko Dladla.

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