South Africa in mourning

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pretoria – The nation is mourning the death of 67 South Africans, who died after a building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria, collapsed.

President Jacob Zuma made the announcement on Tuesday evening after days of speculation about whether any South Africans were among the survivors.

The popular Lagos-based Synagogue Church Guest House building at the Ikotun downtown area of Lagos collapsed on Friday, leaving scores injured.

According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the verification of the deceased is a difficult process and the death toll is likely to rise.

Describing the incident as a heart-breaking tragedy, President Zuma said this was the first time in the recent history of South Africa that this many nationals died in one incident outside the country.

“Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues that have lost their loved ones in this heart-breaking tragedy. The whole nation shares the pain of the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who have lost their loved ones. We are all in grief.”

The President promised government's support to the affected families to help identify and repatriate the bodies of their loved ones.

“I have directed the relevant government departments and entities to act with the utmost urgency to ensure that we facilitate the movement of relevant family members to Nigeria to identify the bodies of their loved ones and to ensure that we repatriate the remains as soon as possible under the circumstances.”

He said government will keep the public informed about developments around this tragedy.

President Zuma also sent condolences to the people of Nigeria and all other nations affected by this tragedy on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa.

South Africans have streamed to Nigeria in the past to seek spiritual guidance and healing from prominent evangelist TB Joshua, whose church services draw people in their thousands from around Africa and further afield. -