Coffins of deceased Mozambicans dumped at border post over paperwork

2019-03-07 08:59
Coffin. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

Coffin. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

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Three coffins carrying two deceased men and a woman were dumped at the Lebombo border post near Komatipoort, Mpumalanga, by a funeral parlour due to incomplete paperwork.

The dead bodies had been transported from a funeral parlour in Johannesburg and were en route to the Mozambican provinces of Maputo and Gaza. Family members of the deceased were escorting the coffins.

When the group arrived at the Lebombo border post, it was found that the paperwork to repatriate the bodies from South Africa was not complete and in order.

The South African border authorities refused to release the bodies before the correct documentation was made available.

While negotiations with the South African and Mozambican authorities continued for several hours, the funeral parlour dumped the three coffins next to the road on Sunday, a source in the Mozambican consulate in Mbombela (Nelspruit) who requested not to be named told News24.

Members of a specialised task team of the national Department of Health responsible for handling all health-related incidents at border posts were called in the resolve the matter.

'No crime committed'

The families of the deceased were given accommodation for Sunday and Monday nights in the border town of Ressano Garcia, a small town about 5km from the border post.

The Mozambican authorities managed to convince the state mortuary in Tonga to keep the bodies in storage until all the paperwork was finalised. This was done by the Mozambican embassy in Pretoria as well as the Department of Health.

On Tuesday all regulations and paperwork to have the bodies removed from South Africa were met and finalised and the bodies were eventually successfully repatriated to Mozambique.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi confirmed to News24 that they were aware of the incident.

"Because no crime was committed, and the situation was handled by the Department of Health, we did not open an investigation into the matter."

A spokesperson for the department of health was not immediately available for comment.

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