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Bodies pile up as Mortuary employees strike in South Africa

Strike action by the Forensic pathology laboratory assistants working at one of three mortuaries in Durban, South Africa is causing extra pain on bereaved families who are having to wait to bury their deceased loved ones.

The employees have been on strike since last Monday over a failure by the Department of Health to pay their salaries, as well as allegations of tender fraud and cadre deployment.

Ever since the strike started autopsies have been delayed and families are unable to their lay loved ones to rest.
Speaking to Daily News, IBC chairman Ahmed Paruk, supported the employee’s decision saying they are justified in doing so.

“They have various reasons to down tools. Bodies are transported to other mortuaries because the fridges don’t work sometimes.

“The IBC appreciates the work the staff at Gale Street Mortuary do. They work under stringent conditions and are exposed to all kinds of bodies that have an impact on their mental state. They are also at risk to infections.”

Gauteng Health MEC, Gwen Ramokgopa, on Wednesday revealed that a team from the South African National Defence Force in the health services will be helping with the backlog at mortuaries due to the strike by provincial forensic pathology officers.

According to him, ‘there are about 200 post-mortems that are due.”

“We have issued a communique yesterday indicating the challenges. There are about 200 post-mortems that are due.”

“Several families have complained about the impact of the strike.”

One woman whose brother died last Friday claims that he can’t be buried due to the strike.

“We’re sitting here frustrated and we’re worried because he had an accident. These people are on strike and are they keeping the temperature on the fridges properly? Do we postpone the funeral?
“And this thing is not only frustrating but it’s becoming more expensive for us.”

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