MORE than 200 unidentified bodies remain in some of KwaZulu-Natal’s state mortuaries, posing a health hazard to staff. Some of the corpses have been there since 2015/16.PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE
Durban  - MORE than 200 unidentified bodies remain in some of KwaZulu-Natal’s state mortuaries, posing a health hazard to staff. Some of the corpses have been there since 2015/16.

This was according to the Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Pawusa) which said there was a crisis at KZN mortuaries.

The union’s provincial secretary, Halalisani Gumede, said there were no pest-control people at KZN mortuaries.

“This poses a health risk, because the flies go from unidentified bodies to where autopsies are being performed and then to the kitchen where workers have and prepare their lunch,” he said.

Gumede believed the government had no proper plan for burying these bodies.

He said there were 32 unidentified bodies at Park Rynie state mortuary, 60 at Gale Street and 15 at Stanger mortuary. Pinetown had 10 because 20 bodies were given pauper’s burials.

He said these bodies were a health hazard because there was not enough storage at mortuaries, which resulted in cross-contamination.

“If a body that has been identified arrives at the mortuary, it is put with an unidentified one. We are talking about bodies here that have maggots on them. This means that people take their deceased loved ones back home to bury them with these contaminations.”

He said some of these unidentified bodies had been in state mortuaries since 2015 because the department had no system to bury them.

“Our members have to work under these conditions. It’s a crisis our union faces.

“Last year, our members went on a go-slow because the situation about health standards in the workplace was in a dire state. Well, there has been no change,” he said.

The Department of Health was sent a list of questions about the number of unidentified bodies in state mortuaries, but had not responded by the time of publication.

Health head of department Dr Musa Zama said he did not know this information off-hand.

Among some of the bodies in state mortuaries yet to be identified were two that KZN police have asked the public’s assistance in identifying.

“On January 2, in the Port Dunford area, police found the body of an unknown woman, believed to be in her twenties, on the side of the riverbank,” said SAPS spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele.

On New Year’s Eve, the body of an unknown man was found buried at Isipingo Beach with multiple stab wounds. Mbele said the body had still not been identified.

Daily News