Shortage as nine mortuary vans wait for repairs

2014-09-05 00:00

THE parking lot of the Pietermaritzburg Forensic Pathology Centre has been turned into a dumping ground for vehicles waiting for repairs.

Only one mortuary van is attending to calls, fetching bodies from crime scenes, while the other nine vehicles are parked at the centre in Fort Napier, with mechanical problems and accident damage.

A Witness reporter visited the centre recently and photographed the nine vehicles. The air had run out of the tyres of some vehicles, indicating they had stood there for some time.

However, KZN Health Department spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi denied that there is a shortage of mortuary vans on the road.

“These allegations about the status of vehicles in Pietermaritzburg are untrue. They have three operational vehicles and we are waiting for two vehicles to be added [to the fleet].”

However, sources at the pathology centre said some of the vehicles had been parked there for more than a year.

“These cars have different problems, including mechanical problems and expired discs, and some were involved in accidents. This does not mean that they are beyond repairs. The department must fix them,” said one source.

He added that the centre is short-staffed.

“More than 10 posts are vacant and the department is not filling them.

“We can’t work like this. They need to do something about these vehicles. This affects everyone during the collection of bodies,” said the source.

A police officer, who would not be named, said they often waited for long periods before mortuary vans arrived at crime scenes to remove bodies.

However, Mkhwanazi said that the recovery and removal of corpses from crime scenes is dependent on several legal issues.

He added that the removal of corpses from crime scenes demands co-operation between the police and health officials.


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