Media reports on Wednesday suggested that the national health director-general, Malebona Precious Matsoso, had revealed to the parliamentary portfolio committee on health that drivers and cleaners had been performing post-mortems.
Matsoso was briefing Parliament on the ongoing strike at the province’s mortuaries.
When asked for comment on these allegations, Motsoaledi confirmed he was aware of these allegations and planned to investigate them “thoroughly”.
“When this first came up I thought that these workers were just making up these claims, because when people go on strike they often make such wild claims to gain public sympathy."
“But now that the claims are becoming so serious. To the extent that it has been reported that Parliament was briefed on this, I’m taking it very seriously, because if it’s true, the head of the (implicated) mortuary must account,” a fuming Motsoaledi told The Star on Wednesday.
Hundreds of families wanting to bury their loved ones have been left frustrated over the past two weeks because they have been unable to retrieve the bodies due to the protracted strike by forensic pathology employees.
The workers are affiliated to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union and the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA.
Motsoaledi explained that the only role pathology officers play when it came to post-mortems was to prepare bodies before the actual pathology is carried out.
The real post-mortem should be done by the pathologist, he said, adding that if this was not the case, it amounted to fraud and needed to be probed.
Motsoaledi’s assertions contradicted statements by the chairperson of the portfolio committee on health, Lindelwa Dunjwa, who denied that drivers and cleaners were carrying out post-mortems.
Dunjwa said the director-general had only confirmed that both health departments – national and provincial – as well as the Gauteng Department of Labour were looking into all the challenges.