Not all bodies in Phoenix mortuary linked to unrest – Health MEC

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  • KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane says the Phoenix mortuary is one of the busiest in the province because it is the biggest.
  • She says there are 57 unidentified bodies there.
  • She has urged people to go to the mortuary if they have missing family members.

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane says the number of bodies at the Phoenix mortuary is not be directly linked to the unrest in parts of the province last week.

While she didn't say outright that the facility was full, she said it had more than 300 bodies before the unrest.

"As of last week, we had 350 bodies that were already there that had nothing to do with Phoenix. People did die in Phoenix and it is a point that we cannot run away from."

She said it was for authorities to fully investigate the manner in which people were killed.

"We leave that particular element to the SAPS and security cluster to identify and indicate how many people passed on in relation to the unrest and those who were targeted."

Simelane was speaking at People's Park at the Moses Mabhida Stadium where Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi was conducting an inspection.

Phoenix mortuary, the biggest in the province  

She said the Phoenix mortuary was one of the biggest and was often full because it had a capacity of 500 shelves. She said it also had state-of-the-art equipment.

"It means that over the last period of 12 months, even bodies in other facilities not identified by families and SAPS, still come back to us, and [those] waiting for DNA results are kept at the facility purely because of the nature and size of the facility."

READ | Survivors speak of violence and pain, leaders call for peace and justice for victims

Simelane said there were 57 unidentified bodies at the facility.

"We are calling on those with missing family members to come to the mortuary to see if it is one of them."

She added: "A medico-legal mortuary is not able to indicate where you were stabbed or shot. The post mortem only indicates what is the cause of the death. So, with the 57 I am talking about, once a post mortem is done, it can only indicate what caused your death, not where your death was."

She said most of the bodies at the facility would come from the northern part of the province.

There has been racial tension in Phoenix, Bhambayi, Zwelisha and Amaoti after residents erected community roadblocks, preventing many black residents from passing through Phoenix.

A peace committee, comprising the leadership of all four communities, was formed by Police Minister Bheki Cele to quell rising tensions.

The Human Rights Commission also hosted a dialogue in the community on Friday to attempt to foster peace and understand the nature of the attacks.

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