Souls Forgotten As Unclaimed Bodies Pile Up in Mortuaries

Sep 20, 2023 | Press Releases

The IFP, as the Official Opposition in the KZN Legislature, calls upon the KZN MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane, to provide a detailed plan and clear timeline to address the issue of unclaimed bodies in government mortuaries.

The IFP believes that respecting the living means respecting the dead, too. A deceased person’s remains also need to be treated with necessary dignity and respect. It is unfathomable that some unclaimed corpses date back to 2017. It is reported that around 1 509 bodies are unclaimed, which is in violation of health regulations and is posing a serious health hazard to mortuary staff.

This is most prevalent in Fort Napier Mortuary in Pietermaritzburg.

For mortuaries to grapple with the burden of storing dead bodies for so many years indicates that incompetence is involved and somewhere, somehow, someone is failing to perform his/her allotted duties.

It is high time for MEC Simelane to provide plans to address this issue, which deserves an urgent solution. She must take the public into her confidence about these delays by the Health Department.

According to National Health Act (2003) Regulations Regarding the General Control of Human Bodies, Tissue, Blood, Blood Products and Gametes, “The body of a deceased person that is not buried, or claimed for burial within 30 days after the death of that person by the by spouse, partner, major child, parent, guardian, major brother or major sister in the specific order mentioned or bona fide friend of the deceased, shall be at the disposal of the health officer in whose area the body is.”

We urge families to claim bodies of their loved ones so that the number of unclaimed bodies in mortuaries can decrease.

Mrs Ncamisile Nkwanyana MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson for Health
078 302 3991

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