Gauteng state mortuaries have more than 2 366 unclaimed bodies. They could have already been given pauper’s burials!. The 21 missing Life Esidimeni patients’ family members might be searching for their loved ones in vain.
This is the sad reality after it emerged that Gauteng state mortuaries have had 2 366 unclaimed and unidentified bodies since March last year.
According to DA shadow MEC on health in Gauteng, Jack Bloom, this was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in the legislature.
A total of 2 287 bodies were unidentified and 79 unclaimed between April last year and October this year. “This is 8,5% of the total number of 27 737 bodies stored in mortuaries over this period,” said Bloom.
The Gauteng Health Department said bodies received paupers’ burials if not claimed within four weeks. He said it was a possibility that some of the 21 missing Life Esidimeni patients may be among the unclaimed bodies.
At the time of going to print, the department had not responded but only provided the process followed before conducting a pauper’s burial:
- Identification starts on the scene of death, including IDs, statements, cellphones and clothing.
- Post mortem fingerprints, DNA and photos are taken by the police.
- Fingerprints are sent to a laboratory, and the results are sent to police to try and trace the family.