SA survivors from Nigeria return home

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pretoria - Twenty six South Africans who were injured when a buidling at the Synagogue Church of all Nations in Nigeria collapsed, will arrive in the country this morning.

The Inter-Ministerial Task Team on the Nigeria tragedy led by Minister in the Presidency and Chairperson of the task team, Jeff Radebe, will receive the 26 patients at the Swartkops Air Force Base in Pretoria.

The flight, which was expected to land at 7am this morning, has been delayed and should land later this morning, according to officials.

Ambulances from the Gauteng Emergency Services have arrived and are waiting at the Air Force Base to transport the patients directly to the Steve Biko Hospital, where a special plan has been made to receive them. 

There will be an area reserved for media to capture the arrival of the aircraft as well as the offloading of patients at the Swartkop base.  Minister Radebe has appealed to the media to protect the privacy of the patients.

“Families of the patients have been notified by the Department of Social Development and logistical arrangements are being made to enable them to visit their loved ones at Steve Biko Hospital,” Minister Radebe said on Sunday.

All patients will be admitted to the Steve Biko Hospital where they will be assessed prior to being transferred to the hospital of their choice or discharged according to their condition.

Families of members of patients are requested to start arriving at Steve Biko Hospital from midday where social workers will be on hand to receive them.

Minister Radebe said a team of specialists are accompanying and caring for the injured during the 10-hour flight back home.

“A Mass Casualty Aero-Medical Evacuation Team with specialised equipment from the South African Military Health Service touched down in Lagos at 14h00 this afternoon.

“The team, under the leadership of Lt Col Fanus Martin, with the capacity to evacuate, existing patients, is equipped to treat critically injured patients and provide care during the 10-hour flight back to South Africa.

“Amongst the medical team members is one orthopaedic Surgeon, Colonel (Prof) Theo Le Roux, an internationally recognised trauma surgeon; 4 Aero-Medical Officers that have specialised in aviation medicine; 6 Nursing Officers specialised in aviation nursing; and as 8 military paramedics,” Minister Radebe said on Sunday.

He said extra measures were taken to provide care and comfort to injured children on board. A donated Teddy Bear Pack, with toys, were handed to each child when they boarded the aircraft.

Minister Radebe has requested families of South Africans who are not yet unaccounted for to contact the information line: 012 351 1000.

The South African Assessment team in Lagos are continuing with the work of finalising the process of repatriation of deceased South African citizens.

Specific details about the repatriation of the deceased South Africans will be provided as soon as the identification process is completed.

The Inter-Ministerial Task Team has thanked South Africans for their continued support to the affected families during this difficult time. –