Media release

Update on efforts to repatriate mortal remains of SA citizens from Nigeria

03 October 2014

3 October 2014

The Inter-Ministerial Task Team is pleased to announce that we have reached another critical milestone on the path towards the repatriation of South African citizens who lost their lives in Nigeria. Nigerian authorities have completed the post-mortems on all 116 deceased in the Nigerian building collapse disaster.  While we are not sure about how much longer it will take to bring deceased South Africans home, we are encouraged with the completion of post-mortems which bring us closer to finalising the process.  The Nigerian authorities have also finalised the collection of DNA samples and are currently finalising the administrative processes to transport the exhibits to a forensic laboratory for comparison purposes. The fingerprint verification process is still underway.

We once again reiterate our commitment to ensure the earliest possible return home of the deceased. National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) and the South African officials on the ground in Nigeria continue to work around the clock to provide all possible assistance to satisfy all the administrative requirements prescribed by Nigerian law.
The South African government continues to cooperate with the Nigerian government to expedite the process where possible. South African Consul-General in Nigeria, Ambassador Sam Monaisa, held a meeting on Thursday, 2 October with Ambassador S.S. Yusuf, the Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa and other officials to thank the Nigerian government for their cooperation during the repatriation of the injured. The meeting also discussed the way-forward towards the repatriation of deceased South African citizens.

Government understands the toll this long period of waiting is taking on the affected families.  Even under these difficult circumstances, we urge families to continue to bear with us.  The validation and confirmation process are vital to ensure that families receive the correct remains. To minimise financial strain, we urge families to put funeral arrangements on hold until we receive confirmation from the Nigerian authorities on when the repatriation is going to happen.

We once again urge those who require the assistance of a grief counsellor to contact the Social Development call centre at: 0800 428 428. They should alternatively send a “please call me” message to: *120*7867#. Professional grief counsellors will call them back. The Inter-Ministerial Task Team would like to thank communities for the thoughts, prayers and continued support that they are providing to the affected families during this time.

Phumla Williams
Cell: 083 501 0139

Issued by GCIS on behalf of the Inter-ministerial Task Team on the Nigerian Tragedy

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