Synagogue Tragedy: Lagos Releases 54 Dead Bodies To South AfricaFeatured, Latest News Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
In the aftermath of the Synagogue building collapse, Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola has released 54 dead bodies to the South African Government for repatriation after they have been sorted out through DNA.
Speaking at the State House, Marina, Lagos, at a meeting with the South African envoys, Fashola said out of the 70 bodies that had undergone DNA, 54 of them were South Africans, granting the South African Government permission to repatriate the dead bodies.
“We regret that this has happened here. Unfortunately, I have managed such issue during the Dana plane crash and I understand the anxiety of families who want 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 families take the body of their relative. It will be un-pardon able 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 said.
He added that “we have no reason to deny you the right to take those 54 bodies, 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.”
According to the Chief Medical Examiner, Lagos State, Prof. John Obafunwa, 116 bodies were recovered and had been subjected to post-mortem examination-finger printing, photography, collection of samples and so on.
“Of the 116, we have been able to identify 70 through the DNA laboratory in South Africa. Out of the 70, 54 of them are South Africans, the rests, from their names, are Nigerians, Benin Republic, Togolese and so on.
“We had to collect addition 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,” he said.
Special Envoy and Minister at the South Africa Presidency, Jeff Radebe, said that South-African culture and traditions demanded that burial be made within a week of bereavement, saying that “but today makes it two-month since the incident, so I did 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 reparations 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.”
Radebe stated that arrangement had been made to include the four, and take them to Pretoria, from where three would taken to Harare and one to Kinsasa, saying that “The whole nation of South Africa is in mourning, especially the families that have to endure these two months of waiting in order to bring closure to these whole incident. We are ready to repatriate them as soon as we get the green light from the State government.”
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