Families must cough up as much as R80‚000 in legal fees to have bodies of relatives released

Forensic Pathology Service van. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU
Forensic Pathology Service van. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU

With the ongoing strike by forensic workers‚ families who wish to approach the court for the release of their loved ones’ bodies‚ must be able to cough up as much as R80‚000 in legal fees.

Lawyer Yousha Tayob‚ who represented a Muslim family who went to the South Gauteng High Court to ask it to order the Diepkloof Forensic Services to release the body of Yusuf Bayat‚ said he helped the family on a pro bono basis.

“If they were to pay for the application‚ which was on an urgent basis‚ they would have coughed up between R50‚000 and R80‚000 for attorneys’ fees‚” Tayob said.

Legal fees are charged on an hourly basis‚ Tayob said.

He said an urgent application involves giving notice to the court and justifying why the matter is urgent.

“You have to justify the relief you are seeking. When we took instructions [from the family] we also had to first ascertain if there is justification to bring an urgent application.

The application the family brought against the minister of health‚ the Gauteng MEC for health‚ the provincial health department and the Diepkloof mortuary was not contested‚ Tayob said.

“The application was not opposed. In fact‚ the state attorney was very sympathetic with the family.”

Bayat was buried on Saturday night after an autopsy was performed and his body was cleaned the same day.

Tayob said an urgent application is presided over by a judge who is available at all times to hear such cases.

“We prepared papers on Thursday night‚ emailed them to the state attorney on Friday morning‚ and then we arranged with the registrar [to have the matter set down].”

Tayob said he has‚ since helping Bayat’s family‚ received requests for legal representation from two other families who are in a similar situation.

Whether he and his firm will assist the two families pro bono‚ will depend on their circumstances‚ Tayob said.

“We have to assess whether the cases should be done pro bono or not. Every case will have to be treated individually‚” he said.

According to Sowetan‚ there were 212 bodies awaiting autopsies at government mortuaries in Diepkloof‚ Roodepoort‚ Germisiton and Johannesburg central by Sunday.

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