Media release

Media briefing by Minister Radebe on meetings held with the Nigerian Government

11 November 2014

11 November 2014

Consul General Ambassador Sam Monaisa,
Director General from the Presidency Dr Lubisi;
Members of the media.

We are going to be very brief.   We need to indicate our mission here in the Federal Republic of Nigeria as it is well known.   The President appointed me as a Special Envoy to deal with the tragic event that took place on the 12 of September this year where 116 people perished in Synagogue Church of All Nation building.

Since yesterday, we paid a courtesy visit to the President of Nigeria his Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan to convey the message from our President Jacob Zuma about the need to speeding up the process of repatriating 81 South Africans who perished on this tragic event.

We are happy to indicate that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not only is he committed, but he has on several occasion been in communication with our President indicating their full support to ensure that as soon as possible we can be able to repatriate those 81 South Africans including the four who were also carrying South African passport. Three (3) from the Republic of Zimbabwe and one (1) from Democratic Republic of Congo.

We are confident that after that discussion we are going to be seeing progress towards finalising this very traumatic experience. About few minutes ago, we also met with the Commissioner for Health in this State of Lagos.  He also made his own commitment to finalising this process. As we are all aware that there is, a team established by the State of Lagos to work on the identification process to ensure that all the deceased are positively identified.

We from our part we stand ready.  As soon as we get a green light, we will repatriate. Our infrastructure is ready; the aircraft to transport our compatriots is also ready. If everything goes well we should be able to repatriate them this coming Saturday in order to arrive in South Africa on Sunday.

Tomorrow will be meeting with the Governor of the State of Lagos in order to finalise all the processes.

Before I conclude, I need to underline the point that the people of South Africa are in mourning. We feel for the families of the deceased, in terms of our culture we normally bury the deceased within a week. Tomorrow it will be two (2) months since the tragic event took place.

This has been ex-ordinarily a long time for these families, for them to receive the remains of their loved ones.  We also acknowledge the patience of these families during this difficult time.  They have had to endure the pain, suffering and emotions of the endless wait. We hope that this weekend these families will be able to have closure to this very tragic event.

There are also many South Africans who are currently here to support the repatriation process, including top medical officers from Department of Health, South Africa Police Service, and South African National Defence Force in order to ensure that we give full cooperation of wrapping up this tragic event.

I thank you.


Phumla Williams
Spokeswoman for the Inter-Ministerial Task Team
Cell: +2783 501 0139/ 083 501 0139

Issued by Department of Communications (DoC) on behalf of The Inter-Ministerial Task Team on the Nigeria tragedy  

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