South Africa News

Investigation into allegations that woman woke up in a mortuary

Mystery surrounds how a woman allegedly woke up in a mortuary freezer.

The Department of Health (DoH) is investigating allegations that a woman, who was apparently falsely declared dead, later woke up in a freezer in the Phoenix mortuary.

This follows an article in the Phoenix Tabloid, which said that Constantia Junior Govender (52) was falsely declared dead by doctors at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix.

The publication reported that she woke up in a freezer at the mortuary, in an almost Lazarus-like tale.

Govender told the newspaper that she had blacked out on the road, on the way to a friend’s house and she woke up in the mortuary “feeling cold, naked and covered with a sheet from a corpse bed”.

Responding to the allegations, the spokesperson for the KZN Department of Health Ntokozo Maphisa, said that Govender is known as an out-patient at the hospital, but there were no records of her ever being admitted around that time.

Our official records reveal that the patient in question is a known out-patient, who comes regularly to the institution to get her medication. However, there are no records in our institution, even at casualty, that show that she was ever admitted, demised, or referred to any of our mortuaries.

“We also checked with our surrounding mortuaries, including the Phoenix Medico-Legal Mortuary. From February to date, there was no body that went missing after admission at any time from the Phoenix Medico-Legal Mortuary,” she said.

The DA has released a statement calling for an investigation to shed light on the incident.

The statement, by the DA KZN spokesperson for health, Edwin Baptie, calls for clarity.

“The people of this community also deserve a clear and conclusive public statement,” said Baptie.

Baptie added that the details from both parties are sketchy. Of concern to the DA is that neither party has made direct reference to a specific date, time, place or staff members to verify their accounts.

“We, therefore, call on both the DoH and Ms Govender to do so in order to enable a swift and conclusive probe,” he said.

Baptie said the case of Govender bears similarities to a case that took place a number of years ago.

Govender’s claim has striking commonalities with another incident in 2016, where a motorcycle accident patient was found to be alive in a mortuary fridge at the same hospital. Tragically, he succumbed to his injuries several hours later.

The DA is calling on MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu to ensure accountability from the ANC government.

“KZN citizens deserve to receive proper healthcare,” Baptie said.

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