Durban mortuary manager suspended

Amanda Khoza, News24

Durban – A senior manager employed at the Gale Street in Durban has been placed on suspension after a family took home the wrong corpse at the weekend, the KwaZulu-Natal health department said on Tuesday.

Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said in a statement the Gale Street Medico-Legal Mortuary facility manager had been placed on suspension after the he was called to intervene when employees refused to assist the family.

Dhlomo said relatives in Durban went to identify the deceased on behalf of the family, who lives in KwaMaphumulo, north of Durban.

“After the family had identified the body, arrangements were made to move the corpse to a private mortuary.

“The family on Friday discovered during a traditional cleansing rite that it was not their family member. They took the body back to the mortuary the next day, but the clerks refused to accept the body.”

Insensitive nature

Dhlomo said it is alleged that the suspended manager advised the family to take the corpse to a private mortuary.

“I am told the family asked the staff who will pay for the corpse.”

Dhlomo said the family eventually approached the SABC and asked for assistance on what to do with the corpse.

“I was called to intervene and we met the family at the Gale Street Mortuary and he took body to the mortuary.”

Dhlomo, who was shocked at the insensitive nature in which the staff had treated the family, apologised to the family.

Dhlomo said in the same mortuary it was discovered that bodies were being eaten by rodents and has ordered the closure of certain sections of the mortuary while the department works to fix problems at the mortuary.

“The first case is said to have been discovered early in October with three bodies subsequently showing similar injuries. Further inspection of the facility revealed that all the cold room door rubbers had bite marks from what is suspected to be rodents.”

Dhlomo has called for the manager to be relieved of her duties with immediate effect and also for the affected sections of the mortuary to be closed while the problem is being attended to.

“We really cannot keep a person without empathy in such a sensitive environment. Here we need people who will appreciate that even the departed have a right to dignity.

“We simply cannot keep a manager who fails to show leadership and cannot take decisive action to resolve challenges. Our sympathies go out to all the affected families,” said Dhlomo.