Desperate bid to locate missing body
Traumatised family want answers
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.