The Gale Street mortuary in Durban. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo / African News Agency / ANA
Durban - Staff at the Magwaza Maphalala (Gale) Street Mortuary have turned to the KwaZulu-Natal Health Portfolio Committee chairperson after they were locked out of the mortuary last Friday.

The Public and Allied Workers’ Union of SA chairperson Halalisani Gumede said all 37 workers had been forced to stop work.

“We received a letter on Thursday afternoon to go back to work because not enough post-mortems were being conducted. They didn’t even give workers a chance to rectify this,” Gumede said.

However, he said they were hopeful because they had written to the department, but were yet to receive a response.

The workers had contacted committee chairperson Nomakiki Majola, complaining they were locked out of the building.

She asked them to send her a written complaint so that she could forward it to the relevant departments and get back to them once she had a response.

“On Friday, there was a decision taken by the Department of Health to lock out the employees and force officials from Ugu and iLembe to assist the department to conduct post-mortems, and help the communities get their loved ones’ bodies,” Majola said.

She said bringing in employees from the two districts resulted in 38 bodies being released on Friday and families were able to continue with planned funerals.

Health Department head Dr Sandile Tshabalala said the department was aware of the letter issued to workers at the mortuary after they embarked on a go-slow, but because staff did not return to work after receiving the letter, they were forced to put into action a contingency plan.

“Our contingency plan is working far more efficiently than when those on strike were at work. In their absence, more work has been done, such that post-mortems were completed on more than 35 bodies over three days, while the employees were only doing three bodies a day.”

Daily News