Relatives of victims who lost their lives in the Johannesburg inner-city building fire on September 1 can visit the Gauteng Forensic Pathology Service (GFPS) mortuary in Diepkloof to identify their loved ones.
According to the Gauteng Department of Health, 74 bodies, including 40 males, 24 females and 10 undetermined, who were burnt beyond recognition, are being processed. Twelve of the bodies are children, and four body parts were also discovered.
Digital fingerprint system to be used
The Gauteng FPS will use a digital fingerprint system to identify unknown bodies. The system uses biometric scanners and third-party access to the databases of the Department of Home Affairs, South African Police Service and National Credit Bureau.
Bodies that have been burnt beyond recognition and have no fingerprints will be identified through DNA.
By August 31, 61 people had been treated at Gauteng hospitals, including Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, South Rand Hospital, Helen Joseph Hospital, Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital and Tembisa Hospital.
Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko spent most of Thursday afternoon visiting patients admitted to Gauteng hospitals, some of whom sustained burns, multiple fractures and suffered from smoke inhalation.
“As soon as we learnt of the incident, we immediately activated our emergency protocols to ensure that we responded as speedily as possible to those who needed medical attention. The Gauteng Emergency Medical Services has been on the ground contributing to emergency and rescue efforts as part of the provincial disaster management response. We have further deployed counselling and other psycho-social support services to complement interventions from the city of Joburg and the provincial Department of Social Development,” says MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko.
Family members wishing to identify their loved ones must take their original ID, the ID of the deceased, or the birth certificate if the deceased is a child, to the Diepkloof FPS, at 2 Collinder Road Berthsam, Diepkloof, Soweto. Identification of the bodies will take place on Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday from 09:00 to 15:00.
If the deceased is a foreign national, a passport, asylum seeker certificate, or a letter from the country of origin confirming the deceased’s identity must be presented, and details provided as to who the remains should be handed over to.
Those trying to trace loved ones can contact the Gauteng Provincial Government’s hotline at 0800 203 886 or call 011 355 3048 or 011 241 5707 during office hours.
Counselling services will be offered to the bereaved families.
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