Authorities called on to speed up body-identifying process as government mortuaries run full in KZN

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KwaZulu-Natal government mortuaries in Durban are reportedly full. This follows devastation caused by the floods. National Funeral Practitioners’ Association has appealed to the government to speed up the process of identifying bodies.

There are fears that more people are still missing.

It is feared that the pilling up of more bodies of flood victims in government mortuaries will cause a delay in burials.

Durban bore the brunt of the disaster with over 350 deaths.
Mortuaries are reportedly facing a backlog in conducting post mortems.
The Phoenix and Pinetown mortuaries are the only two in Durban.

As search and rescue operations continue, families are expected to make their way to mortuaries to identify their loved ones. And, president of the National Funeral Practitioners Association, Muzi Hlengwa, says government needs to come up with a strategy to ensure that flood victims are laid to rest speedily.

“We understand that our government lacks capacity. It’s a long standing issue; it’s not a thing of today and it cannot be addressed overnight. Our advice is that there has been floods. Most of the bodies can just be viewed and be released, so that the process can be done as quickly as possible. You cannot expect mortuaries to speedily do post mortems of more than 400 bodies that we have now. What we are advising is that bodies can just be viewed, declared, identified and be released so that we conduct burials, so that our people can find closure.”

Funeral service providers say government should consider releasing bodies, without doing post mortems to avoid delays in burials.

“It will have a negative effect on us. The families would have already waited a week by the time bodies get to us. So, they would want to bury as quickly as they can. As we speak the government mortuaries are not coping with the number of bodies that are piling up at the morgue. So, if there was a way that we could skip the post-mortems we would appreciate that bodies be viewed and declared that they can be released,” says Hlengwa.

The provincial government said in a statement that it’ll beef up the number of pathologists to speed up the completion of post mortems.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana says there’s a need for government to speed up its intervention plans in KwaZulu-Natal.

Government released R1 billion in emergency funds on Friday to help tens of thousands of people left without shelter, water and power following devastating floods in the province. The floods have killed nearly 400 people.

Godongwana says after the emergency relief stage, government will move to the first phase during which it will get professionals to make an assessment of the damages and the costs.

He says the second phase will be recovery and repair.

KZN FLOODS | Blame should be put on the doors of the government:

Meanwhile, various government departments have continued to visit KwaZulu-Natal areas in which floods have affected families.

Social Development Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu is also in the province.

“Families such as the Sibiya families who lost three family members and a 4-year-old who has not been found since their house was swept away were visited by the deputy minister.  Since the beginning of the tragedy, the department’s agency SASSA is providing social relief of distress in terms of food vouchers, school uniforms and blankets. The agency has now increased the cash benefit from R700 to R1 960 where there has been a loss of belongings. The value of a normal food voucher has been increased from R700 to R1200,” says Lumka Oliphant, Department of Social Development spokesperson.