Grim news emerging on Wednesday afternoon, with the The National Funeral Practitioners Association saying that undertakers and mortuaries in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) are totally overwhelmed by the rapid influx of bodies being admitted after violent riots and looting saw 22 people killed in the province last week. 

The Association said that there are over 300 unidentified bodies currently stored in mortuaries in Phoenix, where police are investigating 38 murder cases after chaos ensued little over a week ago. 

Families urged to check mortuaries for missing relatives  

Speaking to eNCA on Wednesday, The National Funeral Practitioners Association President Muzi Hlengwa said that mortuaries in the Phoenix and Verulem areas have reached their capacity.

“The situation in Phoenix is beyond the control of mortuaries. The maximum capacity at the storage facility is 500 bodies, and they have reached that now and cannot admit any more bodies.,” he sad. 

Fears are mounting that the death toll is set to rise significantly, with families continuing to open missing person cases with the South African Police Service (SAPS). Hlengwa urged these families to visit mortuaries, where their loved ones may sadly be located. 

“The family members who are looking for relatives must come to the mortuaries to see if they are there after last week’s riots. Most of the bodies that have been piling up there are directly linked to what happened last week,” he said. 

“Yesterday, they told me that they have over 300 bodies in a backlog who have not been identified. They are overwhelmed with the amount of bodies.”

Police investigating 38 murder cases linked to KZN riots  

Hlengwa recalled the horrific scenes that unfolded during the deadly riots, saying that bodies were strewn along streets and in looted shops prior to being moved to mortuaries. 

He said that by Wednesday last week, undertakers were called to come in and assist with moving bodies into storage facilities. 

“Bodies were scattered all over in the streets and in the shops where people were looting. Mainly in Phoenix where many people died,” he said. 

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said on Tuesday that that police are investigating 38 murder cases, and these include other cases that happened in Verulam and surrounding areas.


Presh JM Reporter

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