Backlogs at the Phoenix mortuary following a number of bodies that needed post-mortems have resulted in some families being unable to bury their loved ones for more than two weeks. Some families do not have funds to bury.
Families who lost their loved ones in the recent riots in KwaZulu-Natal are pleading for financial assistance to cover burial costs. The number of deaths in the province in relation to the recent unrest is standing at 251. The KwaZulu-Natal government says only eighteen unidentified bodies remain at the Phoenix mortuary north of Durban.
As the dust settles in the province some people are returning to work and businesses are slowly reopening. Life is however not the same for families who lost their loved ones during the unrest.
Sipho Shezi from Escourt in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands lost his fifteen-year-old son Nkosikhona. Shezi maintains that his son did not take part in the looting and was in the vicinity when security guards allegedly shot at him. Shezi is pleading for financial assistance to transport and bury the remains of his son. He explains what happened on the day.
“The bullet entered through his right eye and penetrated his head and exited at the back. When we found him lying where he was shot we did not touch him, we were advised not to. At that time he was still hot and there were chances of him surviving. My son lost a lot of blood while lying there for hours, we heard from those who were there that a security guard car stopped and started shooting at people.”
For the Bandezi family who are originally from Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape, the loss of their 36-year-old brother Anele is devastating. Anele was allegedly also shot while in the area around Springfield Park and later died in a Durban hospital. The Bandezi brothers are in Durban in search of jobs but none of them have been lucky to secure permanent employment. They say it has been very difficult to mourn their loss as they first had to deal with securing funds to transport his remains back to Eastern Cape. Lungisa Bandezi says his brother’s remains are kept at the Phoenix mortuary.
“I have been to Phoenix mortuary, they helped me fill some paperwork. I also saw my brother’s body but the state he is in now due to the number of days he has already spent in the mortuary is worrying me. All I wish for is that his body is released even if we don’t have money to take him home for burial. Anele was not employed, I am also not working even back home there is no one working who can be able to carry the costs of burial. I have done a quotation in one funeral parlour, they estimated something like ten thousand rand, it is seriously difficult.”
Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health says out of 128 bodies that were at the Phoenix mortuary last Wednesday, 104 have been dissected. Last week there were 56 unidentified bodies but over the weekend the number decreased to 18. The Department has appealed to families who have missing persons to check at the Phoenix mortuary.