Johannesburg - Five corpses that were stuck at the Diepkloof Pathology Services Centre in Soweto were released to their respective families on Friday after Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa intervened.
Ramokgopa visited the facility after lengthy negotiations with forensic pathology officers, who are on a go-slow in a bid to register their concerns, were unsuccessful.
The aim of her visit was to intercede for the autopsies to be done before bodies could be released to their families, Ramokgopa's spokesperson Khutso Rabothata said in a statement.
"This was done with the interest of families that came from as far as KZN, Limpopo, and Lesotho who had already arranged for transportation of their loved ones to their respective homes for burial this weekend," he said.
Forensic pathologists working at the facility were requested to conduct the autopsies on the five released bodies.
The department has noted concerns of the forensic pathology officers which range from danger allowances, salary notches and recognition of prior learning and technical skill, "and consider them to be legitimate".
These concerns are not only distressing employees at the Diepkloof Forensic Pathology Services Centre and "corrective efforts are being explored on national level.
"The acting head of the Gauteng Health department has been committed to meet the forensic pathology officers on Monday to tackle these concerns," said Rabothatha.
The department is committed to resolving these concerns without delay and also reassure to restore trust in all employees of the forensic pathology services in Gauteng and commits to work closely with them until this process is complete, he said.
"Moreover, the department wishes to express sincere gratitude to the families who waited unwearyingly for the release of their beloved ones whilst negotiations between the department and employees were taking place."