DA writes to KZN Health MEC as bodies pile up at Fort Napier mortuary

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health


DA writes to KZN Health MEC as bodies pile up at Fort Napier mortuary


The DA has today written to KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, calling for immediate steps to be taken in order to prevent a full-scale strike by disgruntled mortuary workers in the province. The move comes after the DA was yesterday informed that staff at the Fort Napier forensic mortuary have already been on a go-slow for almost two weeks, with the result that there is a backlog of 16 bodies which still require post-mortems.

During last week’s health portfolio committee the DA forewarned MEC Dhlomo about possible strike action over the Easter period. It is now clear that workers are not going to wait that long. Despite this heads-up, there has been no response by either the MEC or his Department.

The DA is extremely concerned by the consequences of such inaction. In some cases it will mean that families cannot bury their loved ones in accordance with their religious practices. In other cases it could mean the frightening sight of bodies lying uncollected at accident and crime scenes – which may become a reality sooner rather than later.

Mortuary workers are already striking in Gauteng and the DA has little doubt that, before the end of this week, KZN will find itself in the thick of this matter. At the heart of the issue is the fact that the DoH has, yet again , reneged on its previous commitment to pay up to 40% of back-pay due to the forensic pathology officers [FPO's]. Nor have they honoured their commitment to upscale them to the pay-grade salary equivalent to Level 7.

The Health MEC and his department are obliged to keep their word. The constant shifting of goal posts is not only affecting the dead but increasing the suffering, mourning and misery of the living. In the event that they cannot keep their end of the bargain, as a result of financial ruin during Dhlomo’s 10 year reign, then they must come clean.

At the same time, FPO’s must also realise that mortuary staff offer an essential service and that they cannot simply down tools when their actions have such massive repercussions. While the current situation is not of their making, the DA urges them to act with compassion and to work with the Department to minimise or prevent any disruption to services.

The DA expects MEC Dhlomo to respond to our correspondence without delay and to provide answers to KZN’s Health portfolio committee as to how he intends to fix the mess he and his Department have created, even if this means taking stern legal action to ensure the continuity of services.

This protracted matter must be settled urgently. It is untenable that the people of our province continue to be plunged into such crises, simply because of an ANC government that does not care.

Leave A Comment