Post-mortems completed on Nigeria building victims

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pretoria - Post-mortems on all 116 deceased, who died when the guesthouse belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria collapsed last month,  have been completed, government said on Friday.

“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 Inter-ministerial Task Team on the Nigerian Tragedy said in a statement.

Currently, the fingerprint verification process is underway.

Around 116 people, among them 84 South Africans, were killed and dozens trapped when a multi-storey guesthouse attached to the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in Lagos on September 12.

Repatriation to take some time

However, government was not sure how much longer it would take to bring deceased South Africans home.

Acting Director General of Communications Phumla Williams reiterated government’s commitment to ensure the earliest possible repatriation of the deceased.

“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,” she said.

Williams said government continues to cooperate with the Nigerian government to expedite the process where possible.

She said the 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.

In terms of Nigerian law, the South African experts, who had flown to Lagos to assist, could not perform post-mortems on the victims, but only act as observers.

To minimise financial strain, government urged families to put funeral arrangements on hold until confirmation from the Nigerian authorities on when the repatriation is going to happen.

The Department of Social Development has activated a call centre for those who require the assistance of a grief counsellor: 0800 428 428. 

They can alternatively send a “Please call me” to: *120*7867#. Professional counsellors will call back and help them deal with the trauma of losing a loved. -