Families told to contact autopsy hotline during mortuary go-slow

The KwaZulu-Natal health department has said there was a backlog of 26 bodies that needed to be processed at the Fort Napier Medico Legal Mortuary.
The KwaZulu-Natal health department has said there was a backlog of 26 bodies that needed to be processed at the Fort Napier Medico Legal Mortuary.
Image: 123RF/Fernando Gregory Milan

Grieving families can call a hotline to determine the progress of autopsies on the bodies of loved ones while a go-slow continues at a state mortuary in KwaZulu-Natal.

The provincial health department said families would be requested to leave their details in order to be contacted with an update.

Bodies have been piling up at the Fort Napier Medico Legal Mortuary as forensic pathology services staff refuse to resume the normal pace of work until their grievances are addressed.

A week ago the provincial health department said there was a backlog of 26 bodies that needed to be processed at the facility.

"Normally‚ the mortuary performs between 10 to 12 autopsies per day. However‚ since the go-slow began‚ the workers have been performing a maximum of two bodies per day — causing the number to accumulate‚" the department said in a statement.

On Tuesday afternoon‚ the department said it had begun implementing a contingency plan to minimise the impact of the go-slow. However‚ for security reasons‚ it could not reveal details.

The department planned to continue engaging with unions to resolve some of the issues such as the supply of equipment and repair of air conditioners.

However‚ some of the issues raised were being dealt with at national level.

"We request our members to resume their duties on the basis of the commitment that we have made as a province to improve working conditions. This will be in order to allow duties to resume while we wait for a meeting on December 3 with our counterparts at national level to deal with rest of the workers' grievances‚" said KwaZulu-Natal MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

Public and Allied Workers Union of SA provincial secretary Halalisani Gumede said that until the meeting on December 3‚ the union had "nothing to take to the workers to convince them to end the go-slow."

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