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Call for KZN health department to intervene as 'bodies piled on mortuary floor'

25 April 2022 - 16:28
The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has called on health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu to intervene at the mortuary after reports that bodies are piling up on the floor due to overcrowding. Stock photo.
The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has called on health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu to intervene at the mortuary after reports that bodies are piling up on the floor due to overcrowding. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Fernando Gregory Milan

Karl Dauth identified his son's body at the Phoenix mortuary on April 16. A week later, his son's body remained in the same police body bag on the state facility's floor.

"The mortuary is over full. They have no water to do autopsies. It is terrible to know your son is lying in that state. I tried to report this to everyone and got one response," Dauth wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

He alleged that he was told he could pay a bribe of between R2,000 to R5,000 to get the body.

"So sad, I've just got to keep saying it's just his body [sic], his soul is gone — but it is hard," he wrote.

His post had been shared almost 950 times and received more than 400 comments.  

My son who passed has been at Phoenix State Mortuary since last Saturday I went to identify his body, he was in the same...

Posted by Karl Dauth on Saturday, April 23, 2022

On Sunday Dauth updated his post, saying he "received word" from Durban deputy mayor Philani Mavundla that he could retrieve the body on Monday morning.

Dauth told TimesLIVE he would be ready to comment once his son's last rites had been conducted.

His post prompted the DA in KwaZulu-Natal to call on health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu to intervene at the mortuary after reports of bodies piling up on the floor due to overcrowding.

"This as a result of a lack of regular water supply which is delaying post mortems. The reports come while bereaved families are allegedly being solicited for bribes by staff of up to R5,000 to have their loved one’s bodies seen sooner," said DA MPL Rishigen Viranna.

"The situation at Phoenix mortuary beggars belief. The DA is aware of numerous complaints during the past few days from various bereaved family members. Apart from water issues, there is allegedly a lack of assistance from staff at the facility. That families are being forced to suffer further emotional trauma as a result of an unhelpful and disinterested management is disgraceful."

The DA has approached the KwaZulu-Natal health portfolio committee to request a full-scale urgent inspection.

"We are pleased to report that this is being arranged for later this week. It is important that the deceased at this facility are treated with dignity and their loves ones are afforded the respect and closure they deserve," said Viranna.

"We sincerely hope this will be the case sooner rather than later. In the interim, the DA expects MEC Simelane-Zulu and her HOD Dr Sandile Tshabalala to sit up and take notice of what is happening at this facility and to intervene without delay."

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