The South African government has to abide by Nigerian rules as it awaits the release of the bodies of 85 South Africans who died in the church building collapse in Lagos.
Answering questions in the National Council of Provinces today, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa said government was doing everything possible to ensure the bodies were repatriated.
But, before this could be done, all processes, including the identification of bodies, would first need to be completed by Nigerian authorities.
“They [Nigeria] want to be absolutely certain that they comply with their own laws and their own rules and we are giving them that opportunity,” Ramaphosa said.
“The South African government would not be able to just parachute itself into Nigeria and extricate the mortal remains of those who perished.”
Ramaphosa denied that there was a lack of goodwill towards South Africa on the continent.
“The South African government continues to enjoy good relations with various countries, and indeed many countries, if not all countries on the African continent,” he said.
“We cannot and will not override or undermine any countries we have dealings with.”
Last week, government confirmed the DNA samples from the 116 victims arrived at a laboratory in Stellenbosch, outside Cape Town.
The Nigerian government had appointed the laboratory to identify the victims.
It is believed 85 people from South Africa were among those killed when a multi-storey guesthouse attached to the Synagogue Church of All Nations, run by Nigerian preacher TB Joshua, collapsed in Lagos on September 12.