Deputy Minister of Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo says there are over 4 000 unclaimed bodies in government mortuaries across the country, with the majority of those bodies in KwaZulu-Natal.
This as mortuary staff have raised concerns over the violation of health regulations, overcrowding of unidentified bodies and health hazards the bodies pose. Some unclaimed corpses date back to 2017.
Dhlomo has confirmed that there is a policy that says a body should not stay in a mortuary for more than 30 days. He says, however, government does not have land to conduct paupers’ funerals.
“The policy says keep the body in our refrigeration for these number of days; beyond this, we must find another alternative which we now know it’s an underground storage that is now burials. So for us, we don’t have burial sites unless we speak to municipalities. Hence, two weeks ago I had a meeting with the Deputy Minister of COGTA where it’s not only eThekwini or just Kimberley, it’s countrywide where we need to actually say can they identify and support us with getting spaces to actually bury.”