28 November 2014
Government is disappointed with the Mail & Guardian’s attempt to discredit the collaborative efforts of the South African and Nigerian governments to repatriate the bodies of South Africans that died in Nigeria. Government places it on record that no form of bartering with Nigeria was conducted during the repatriation process.
Spokesperson of the IMC on Information and Publicity, Phumla Williams, said, “The focus was and continues to remain the repatriation of all the mortal remains to South Africa. Government humbly reminds all South Africans that the families of the victims are in mourning and that they should be respected. The use of unnamed sources in this report is tantamount to bringing the repatriation process into disrepute, and obscures the focus of the process.”
The Mail & Guardian report, which clearly holds no water, ignores the fact that South African citizens died outside our borders, and therefore we had to work within the framework of the Nigeria’s laws and policies. The repatriation of the bodies was an extensive process as it was depended on forensic evidence obtained through assigned pathologists. The objective of the special envoy to Nigeria, which was appointed by President Jacob Zuma, was to engage officials on the use of DNA samples initially obtained and South Africa’s fingerprint system to identify the remains.
“It is sad that this article is published at a time when government remains committed to bringing back the 11 remaining bodies to their home - South Africa. The families of the victims need to find closure and begin the healing process. We know that this cannot be achieved, unless they are given the opportunity to give their loved ones a proper burial. Government continues to work with Nigeria and currently DNA samples are being collected from the families of the remaining 11 deceased to assist the forensic process. Once again, government thanks all communities and individuals who continue to provide support to the families of the victims,” said Williams.
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Issued by Department of Communications