The Lagos state government has released the body of 54 South Africans who died in the collapsed building at the Synagogue of All Nations for collection after the bodies were sorted out through DNA.
70 dead bodies have been identified through DNA out of the 116 people
who perished in the tragedy. While 54 of those cleared so far were South
Africans, 16 others are Nigerians, Togolese, Beninoise and others.
governor, Babatunde Fashola gave the approval for the South African
Government to repatriate its 54 dead bodies ready for collection at the
State House, Marina on Wednesday evening after the South African
Government complained that the bodies were held for too long.
to Fashola, “We regret that this has happened here. Unfortunately, I
managed such issues during the Dana plane crash and I understand the
anxiety of families who want the closure and the religious undertone as
well. Our responsibility is to ensure that families get closure. And
those culture exist here. I know that this is an issue that has
attracted global attention.”
“I understand the call by South
Africans to get the bodies of their relatives but we cannot at this time
get the process wrong because if we release a body, we want to ensure
that each family takes the body of their relative. It will be
unpardonable for us to make mistake.
“And the choice of South
Africa for the test was a special decision to make the process easier
for South Africans who bore the bigger brunt of the tragedy. So since
the relatives were in South Africa, it was easier to use a laboratory in
the country, where we could easily take samples from the deceased
families for the test. It was meant to further demonstrate what our
intentions were,” he explained.
Fashola said the state government
had no reason to deny South Africa the right to take those 54 bodies,
saying “you have my word, you can take them whenever you are ready to do
so. It is left for you to decide whether to take them in batches or
wait until we conclude the exercise. But if you are ready, my team will
ensure that you take them without any delay,” Fashola said.
He said the coroner’s inquest is still ongoing, to investigate the cause of the disaster and to prosecute them.
Chief Medical Examiner for the state, Prof. John Obafunwa said 116
bodies were recovered and had been subjected to post-mortem examination,
such as finger printing, photography, collection of samples, among
Obafunwa disclosed that of the 116 bodies, 70 has been
identified through the DNA laboratory in South Africa, explaining that
54 out of the 70 were South Africans.
According to him, “We had to
collect additional DNA samples to assist the laboratory. We’ve been
working together and talking to the lab. It is expected that more
results will come in more than the 70 we have identified.”
of the South African delegation to Nigeria, Special Envoy and Minister
at the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, had said that South African culture and
traditions demand burial within a week of bereavement.
makes it two month since the incident, so I paid a condolence visit to
President Goodluck Jonathan two days ago, to convey the message of our
president and find ways of speeding up the processes and repatriation of
the mortal remains of those 85 (81 S/Africans) including those four who
carry S/African passports even though they are not nationals of our
country,” he stated.
He said that arrangement had been made to
include the four, and take them to Pretoria, from where three would be
taken to Harare and one to Kinsasa, adding that “the whole nation of
South Africa is in mourning, especially the families that have to endure
two months of waiting in order to bring closure to this whole incident.
We are ready to repatriate them as soon as we get the green light from
the state government.
The Director in the South African
Presidency, Cassius Lubisi explained that all necessary machinery were
already in place for smooth return of the bodies to S/Africa, disclosing
that two flights were ready for the exercise, with one to convey
medical session of the Department of Defense, while mortuary trucks
would arrive in the second flight.