60 bodies awaiting autopsies at three KZN mortuaries – DA KZN

Mortuary staff have decided that they will only perform two post-mortems daily as part of protest action

Premier must force MEC Dhlomo to act as 60 bodies pile up at KZN mortuaries

19 March 2018

The Democratic Alliance has called on KZN Premier Willies Mchunu to force provincial Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo to act as the number of bodies awaiting post-mortems at Fort Napier, Gale Street and Pinetown mortuar​ies rises to approximately 60.

The call, made in the form of motion tabled in the KZN Legislature on Friday last week, comes after the DA was reliably informed that the number of bodies awaiting autopsies at Fort Napier had increased from 16 to 22 by the end of last week with 30 bodies at Gale Street Mortuary and 10 at Pinetown mortuary.

Our source at Fort Napier has today confirmed that the number bodies remains at 20 after five were collected by SAPS over the weekend and transferred to another facility in Durban. Certainly, the number will have risen at the Pinetown and Gale facilities.

The DA has also been informed today that as part of the protest action, the mortuary staff have decided that they will only perform two post-mortems daily. This is shocking. They have, however, agreed to collect bodies but the situation remains precarious for as long and KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo and his Department continue to ignore their grievances.

It is clear that we are heading for disaster unless the MEC wakes up and does something. His flat-footed response and political posturing to date has brought the province to its knees in a crisis that is set to escalate over the Easter Period.  This is a busy time for all medical services and the prospect of bodies not being collected from either crime or accident scenes is nothing short of horrific.

Despite the DA having warned the MEC about this looming disaster during the most recent KZN health portfolio committee meeting, we have had no ​meaningful ​response to date.  We have also written to him, calling on him to address his Department’s ongoing failure to pay up to 40% of back-pay due to the forensic pathology officers (FPOs) and to honour an earlier commitment to upscale salaries. Friday’s motion was our third attempt at getting him to act.

It is clear that the MEC is not doing enough to find a solution. This situation cannot wait for politics to play out and KZN needs to work fast to engage with FPOs so that we do not have horrific scenarios where decomposing bodies are left lying on rubbish dumps, under the watch of family members, as reported last week.

Certainly, the answer does not lie in politicians doing autopsies but in providing leadership to prevent and solve such crises. That staff morale and trust in the MEC and his Department is also at an all-time low is a further indictment against him.

The DA expects MEC Dhlomo to respond, in writing,​ to our correspondence without delay.  In addition, we expect Premier Mchunu to act. Failure to do so will prove - once and for all - that KZN’s ANC-led government does not care about the lives of the people of our province.

Issued by Imran KeekaDA KZN Spokesperson on Health, 19 March 2018