Body count at Phoenix morgue climbs to 57, officials say not all deaths are unrest-related
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DURBAN - THE number of unidentified bodies kept at the Phoenix Medico-Legal Mortuary has increased to 57, however not all those deaths are unrest related.
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane has emphasised that while the 500-body capacity mortuary may be close to full, it did not mean that all the bodies kept at the facility were related to deaths that occurred during the violent unrest in the province last week.
She said there were 350 bodies at the Phoenix mortuary before the looting and riots.
The Phoenix mortuary is a new facility and the biggest in the province with a capacity of 500 shelves. The mortuary keeps bodies from across the province.
Simelane encouraged those with missing family members to visit the mortuary to identify the bodies.
While false information has been spreading through social media regarding the killings in Phoenix, Simelane-Zulu said people needed to leave the police to investigate the killings.
"People did die in Phoenix and its a point we cannot run away from. We need to leave that particular element to the SAPS and security cluster to identify and indicate how many died in relation to the unrest.
"There are people who were targeted, we can't run away from that," she said.
Simelane was on a vaccination site visit with acting Health Minister Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, who was on her maiden visit to the province.
The visit is aimed at enabling the acting minister to gain a first-hand understanding of the province's Covid-19 management and response plan as well as to inspect its vaccination programme.
Kubayi-Ngubane said they were concerned about the recent unrest and its impact on the provincial health system.
She said the search response team had been activated in the province.
"People went and destroyed health-care facilities to the value of almost R2m in various sites.
"Previously, we have never had health-care facilities targeted and health-care workers stopped," she said.
She pleaded with those who were involved in the protests and who start showing Covid-19 related symptoms, to please present themselves at a health-care facility to be tested.