Crowded mortuary cleared of 212 bodies

THE provincial health department yesterday confirmed that backlogs at the Gale Street mortuary have been addressed and in record time.

THE provincial health department yesterday confirmed that backlogs at the Gale Street mortuary have been addressed and in record time.

Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said 212 bodies have so far been removed from the mortuary.

He said while family burial is the preferred method of disposing of corpses, the bodies that have been unclaimed were disposed off through pauper burials.

"The capacity there is 150 and as of Tuesday there are 22 bodies left. 19 bodies are still to be identified and three have been brought in by the SAPS special investigating unit."

Dhlomo said the task team launched last week to probe the situation at state mortuaries in the province had helped with the removal of the bodies.

The team comprised officials from the Department of Health and the South African Police Service detectives unit.

Dhlomo appealed to family members to be vigilant of the whereabouts of their loved ones as the backlogs were due mainly to unclaimed bodies.

"It is up to families to ensure that they keep in contact with next of kin who, for any reason, are away from their families" Dhlomo said.

Some of the unclaimed bodies could also be that of the homeless or foreign nationals.

"On the operational side the department will scale up interventions to ensure that we provide a service that will guarantee the family comfort in the knowledge that their loved one is being cared for with dignity.

"A number of interventions will be looked into and a full debriefing from the task team is to take place."

He said the long-term plan was to refurbish all state mortuaries.

"We have 40 existing Medico-Legal Mortuaries. To date seven have been rebuilt and-or refurbished. Nine are being fixed and 24 have not started due to funding constraints."

X