Lagos - A week after a multi-storey guest house collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria, killing dozens of people, none of the injured or dead South Africans have been brought back home.
Jeff Radebe, chairman of the inter-ministerial committee on the Nigerian disaster, on Friday said government has not been able to bring home any victims.
He said a national joint operational and intelligence structure (Natjoints) set up for the disaster meets twice a day and would “indicate when the first batch of injured or deceased will be repatriated”.
A multi-storey shopping mall and guest house at televangelist TB Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) collapsed last Friday in Lagos.
Joshua has claimed that a strange aircraft flew over the premises before it collapsed.
Emergency services have disputed this and say the cause of the calamity was the unauthorised addition of two storeys to the already four-storey building.
Radebe said 349 South Africans were in the church. So far, 84 have been confirmed dead in what he described as a national disaster. It is unclear how many were injured.
“The figure is tentative and subject to forensic tests,” Radebe said.
At least five South Africans tour groups went to the church to receive blessings and healing from Joshua.
Some South African survivors have arrived in the country since the disaster but the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) has said the trips were not arranged by them.
The Natjoints is made up of members of the SAPS, defence force, Home Affairs and Social Development, among other departments. The team focuses on body recovery and repatriation, victims listing and confirmation, post-mortems and assessing of injured persons and assess what medical help they need.
Teams have been dispatched to the OR Tambo International Airport by Dirco to help offer counselling to the families.
Joshua has prophesied that South African youth would revolt against the government.
Leaders like Economic Freedom Fighters commander-in-chief Julius Malema and King Goodwill Zwelithini have visited the church.
There have been reports that the Nigerian government was not forthcoming with information on the disaster. Radebe said: “In the beginning there were challenge, but the Nigerian government has been communicating with the South African government. On Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma has a telephone conversation with his counterpart Goodluck Jonathan,” Radebe said.
Currently, he said, government was more worried about recovery of all South Africans. He said the families would need to know exactly what happened during the collapse.
The 24-hour call centre line is 012 351 1000.
Meanwhile, Gift of the Givers on Friday said
South Africans who needed help in finding relatives following the tragedy should contact the charity.
After a radio interview on Thursday, founder Imtiaz Sooliman said he received calls from five people wanting to find missing relatives. “People who called me asked if I could find their family members,” he said. “I asked for the name of the family member, their ID number and a picture. If there is anyone who seeks assistance in trying to contact family members, they are more than welcome to contact me.”
Sooliman can be reached on 083 236 4029.