18 November 2014
The process of sending mortal remains of South Africans who died in the Nigerian guesthouse building collapse to their places of burial has commenced. Following the official reception ceremony held at Waterkloof Air Force Base, the mortal remains were transported to the Garankuwa Forensic Pathology Mortuary where they were prepared for transportation by road to their final destinations across the country.
Areas nearest to Pretoria such as the North West Province had by the evening of Monday, 17 November 2014 received mortal remains. Given the longer distances, Forensic Pathology Service vehicles are expected to arrive in the Free State and Eastern Cape on Thursday, 20 November 2014. Government continues to communicate with family members to explain the exact dates and times their loved ones are scheduled to arrive at the government mortuary nearest to the place of burial.
Social workers continue to be on hand to provide psychosocial support to the families as they prepare to lay their loved ones to rest. Government urges family members not to suffer the pain of the loss of their loved ones alone in silence. The Social Development toll-free number remains available to family members who require the assistance of a grief counsellor (0800 428 428).
The South African government continues to work closely with Nigerian authorities and all efforts are being made to complete the identification process and repatriation of the remaining South Africans. Whilst the identification process is in the hands of Nigerian authorities, the Government of South Africa remains committed to provide as much assistance as possible to correctly identify the deceased and bring them home for a proper send off. Disaster Victim Identification specialists from the South African Police Service are currently going back to families of the remaining eleven (11) South Africans to collect additional DNA samples for matching. We thank the families for their patience and cooperation as we proceed with process.
We wish to reassure the families of the eleven South Africans that all possible efforts are being made to reunite them with their loved ones as quickly as circumstances permit. Nevertheless, given the amount of time that has passed since the incident happened and state of preservation of the mortal remains, the identification process has become increasingly challenging and may take some time to complete.
Communities are urged to continue to offer support to the affected families during this difficult hour when they will be laying their loved ones to rest.
Spokesperson for the Inter-Ministerial Task Team
Cell: 083 501 0139
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATIONS (DoC) ON BEHALF OF THE INTER-MINISTERIAL TASK TEAM ON THE NIGERIA TRAGEDY