Grieving family wait with body for 5 hours

2011-06-13 00:00

A BEREAVED Woodlands family wept yesterday as they shivered for more than five hours waiting for the body of a family member to be collected from a Pietermaritzburg taxi rank.

Bongani Mahale said he arrived at about 1 pm at the Hammarsdale taxi rank at the corner of Retief and Boom streets after getting the news that his younger brother Sthembiso Mofokeng (39) had collapsed and died at about 11 am.

Shortly he had complained of severe heartburn, which could indicate that he died of a heart attack.

Mofokeng, whose body was only collected at about 6 pm, has been a hawker at the rank since early 2000. He went into the woman’s toilets to drink some water to ease the pain, but when he came out he collapsed and died, to the shock of taxi drivers, commuters and street vendors.

The Witness overheard one of the police officers saying over the phone that the mortuary van was assigned to New Hanover.

the officer was heard to say, “This is a serious disrespect of the deceased, this thing is wrong. Some women who wanted to use the toilets got shocked and turned around after seeing the body.”

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said it has become common for police to get complaints from members of the public about uncollected bodies.

“On May 18 three bodies lay for four to five hours without being collected in Larkspur Road [Northdale].

These are the kind of problems we are experiencing with the Department of Health. Police are not allowed to remove bodies from the scene.”

When the Health Department was contacted for comment, this reporter was referred to a forensic operations manager, who said the forensic co-ordination officer in Pietermaritzburg Keith Bentley is the right person to talk to. Bentley’s cellphone rang unanswered.

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