Deaths of UK mayor, metro cop: KZN health dept denies 'prioritising' autopsies

2019-01-18 18:45


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The Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal has denied allegations that it prioritised certain autopsies over others at its Park Rynie mortuary in Scottburgh, on the south coast of the province.

This comes after reports that it intended to prioritise the autopsies of UK Mayor of Cambridge Nigel Gawthrope and eThekwini Metro police officer Inspector Johan Deysel.

Gawthrope, 61, was on a dive charter boat last Friday in KZN when he went into cardiac arrest.

He was declared dead at the scene despite extensive CPR efforts.

Deysel, 59, also died last Friday when he was knocked down and killed by a taxi he had tried to stop during a roadblock in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban.

Shortly after their deaths, the DA claimed there was a backlog in the completion of autopsies at the mortuary "due to a current go-slow".

'Sensational claims'

DA provincial spokesperson on health, Dr Imraan Keeka, said bodies were "piling up at the mortuary" and that only two post-mortems were being conducted daily.

"The only resident doctor at this mortuary is on leave this week," he said in a statement.

He said while each and every family member of the deceased deserves closure, the DA was aware of "two high-profile cases" at the mortuary.

"The first is that of the body of the Mayor of Cambridge in the UK, who tragically passed away at a South Coast beach this week. The second is that of the body of the Metro police officer – recently mown down in a horrific incident involving a taxi – also at this facility," he said.

"The DA is led to believe that while the late mayor's body will be transferred to Gale Street mortuary for a post mortem, given the circumstances surrounding his death, there is no immediate plan for the body of the Metro officer, despite an urgent request from a local magistrate," Keeka said.

According to media reports on Friday, the KZN health department intended to prioritise the autopsies of Gawthrope and Deysel.

However, provincial spokesperson for the department Ncumisa Mafunda said: "At no point did the department say that it will prioritise the completion of certain autopsies over others. That is reckless and irresponsible reporting on the part of those who are making those sensational claims. The department is committed to clearing all backlogs in the completion of autopsies as soon as possible."

Read more on:    durban  |  health  |  service delivery

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