South Africa: Bodies Piling Up At Gauteng Mortuaries As Staff Down Tools

Bodies are piling up at government mortuaries across Gauteng as staff down tools, demanding formal training from the Department of Health.

Forensic pathology workers embarked on an unprotected strike last Wednesday, March 7, according to the acting chief executive of the Forensic Medical Services, Dr Medupe Modisane.

He said the FMS had received a letter from their lawyer a day prior to the strike, which stated that the workers would not be showing up.

The workers wanted a formal qualification, which could impact on their remuneration, he said.

“Bodies are piling up and Germiston [mortuary] is the most affected. We are dealing with the problem on an hourly basis, and families coming to claim their loved ones for burial without any success.”

He said the bodies could not be released to the families until a post-mortem had been conducted, in order to determine the cause of death.

Modisane said other facilities were “partially” working.

He said they had approached the court on Tuesday morning interdicting the workers from striking, and that they were currently addressing the issue of the workers getting formal training.

“I am just hoping a resolution will be achieved speedily. We know how costly it is to prepare for a funeral during the week and it is a costly.”

Democratic Alliance MP Jack Bloom said it was distressing for families to have to wait for the burial of their loved ones because of a strike.

“I hope that the department shows resolve in curbing this strike and ensures that the agreement reached last year concerning worker grievances is properly implemented.”

Gauteng health department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said they were aware of the strike, but could not confirm whether the employees belonged to a union or not.


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