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Bodies pile up as Gauteng mortuary workers strike

eNCA logo eNCA 2018-03-13
web_photo_Baragwanath_mortuary_030215: FILE image of the mortuary section of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. The business of funerals has become increasingly competitive with reports surfacing of undertakers going to extraordinary and unscrupulous lengths to secure corpses. © eNCA / Checkpoint FILE image of the mortuary section of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. The business of funerals has become increasingly competitive with reports surfacing of undertakers going to extraordinary and unscrupulous lengths to secure corpses.

JOHANNESBURG - The ongoing strike by forensic pathology workers in Gauteng has put the brakes on the release of postmortem results and burials, the DA said on Tuesday.

DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said that the worst affected mortuary was in Germiston in Ekurhuleni, with 65 bodies piling up because of the illegal strike.

"It is very distressing for families to have to wait for the burial of their loved ones because of this illegal strike," Bloom said.

"In one case, Mr Naledzani Netshikulwe has been desperately trying to get the body of his nephew who died last week Thursday. He has written to me as follows: 'As a family, we need to collect the body to do the death certificate and then book the burial site but we can't without postmortem results,” Bloom said.

Hundreds of forensic pathology officers in the province embarked on an unprotected strike last week by not carrying out their dissection and evisceration functions.

In January, Gauteng MEC for Health Gwen Ramokgopa intervened and helped to release to their families five corpses held at the Diepkloof Pathology Services Centre in Soweto.

The striking workers have been given a final warning to resume their normal duties or face disciplinary action as they are in contradiction of an interdict judgment by the Labour Court in 2016.

Bloom said that the workers' grievances relate to unfulfilled promises after their strike in June 2017

Dr Medupe Modisane, Gauteng forensic pathology services acting chief executive, admitted that workers were on a "work-to-rule" strike since last week Wednesday and that this affected the release of the bodies to families.

"There is a grievance about a formal training programme. Postmortems are being affected and the deceased can't be released for burials," Modisane said.

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