File picture: Supplied

Durban -The KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC condemns the filming and distribution of video footage of a burning mini-bus taxi with passengers inside. 

In the same breath Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu paid tribute to all of the Department of Health (DOH) forensic pathology and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff for carrying out their national duty with aplomb, following a spate of fatal road crashes over the weekend. 

The latest information from the KZN DOH EMS is that between 9  and 11 August 2019, a staggering 25 motor vehicle crashes took place, which resulted in 25 fatalities. 

A further 24 people sustained critical injuries, while 32 were seriously injured, and 86 others sustained minor injuries. 

Six of these crashes took place on national routes.

Among the serious road incidents that took place in KZN since Friday have been the: 

* demise of six young Zulu maidens who were traveling in a Toyota Quantum from Pomeroy to attend a pre-annual royal reed dance event in Durban on Saturday. It is alleged that the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed and burst into flames. Nine other occupants of the vehicle escaped with serious to minor injuries;

* crash in Folweni between a minibus taxi and a light motor vehicle on Sunday morning, which claimed five lives, and left 17 people injured;

* bus which overturned in the Lousberg area on Sunday night, which claimed the lives of six people, and left 9 critically injured, 16 with serious injuries, and 58 with minor scratches.

“We send our deepest condolences to families who lost their loved ones. The department wishes the injured a speedy and full recovery. We would be failing in our duty if we did not recognise the sterling efforts of our forensic pathology and emergency medical services staff. They have really had their hands full over the past few days, yet the manner in which they have responded has been superb, said Simelane-Zulu.

“We appreciate the work that that they’ve done, and we want to say to them they must keep it up, because their response time, and the kind of work they do has been noted," she said. 

Simelane-Zulu said there has been a number of challenges, particularly in the Forensic Pathology Services unit, at Magwaza Maphalala (Gale Street) Medico-Legal Mortuary in particular, where staff had embarked on industrial action. 

She said the Department is working to resolve those challenges. 

"The Head of Department, with other senior managers, went there and assessed the facility and the environment, and is working on the solutions. I also call upon the public to respect the privacy and sanctity of people in situations of distress, and desist from filming them and distributing footage,"she said.

Simelane-Zulu said that the DOH heard disturbing and harrowing reports that a video of people inside the burning taxi was filmed and distributed. 

She said distributing the video is the height of insensitivity, which leaves relatives of the deceased with emotional scars that could lead to long-term mental challenges – which is grossly unfair.

"Not so long ago, we had an incident in which a young woman was filmed giving birth (without her consent), having arrived late at one of our clinics. Fortunately, our healthcare workers were able to attend to her and save their lives. 

"Such incidents of unauthorized filming are really uncalled for; and we would like every person who films and distributes such footage without consent to ask themselves this question: how would you I feel if it was me or my loved one being taken advantage of like that?” Simelane-Zulu said. 

Daily News