South Africa: Burial for TB Joshua church collapse victims under way
Seventy four of the 81 bodies were repatriated last Sunday by the South African government.
the identification process has become increasingly challenging
The pilgrims died on September 12 when a building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations led by the preacher Temitope Balogun ‘TB’ Joshua collapsed in Lagos.
An official memorial service presided over by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa was held at an air force base in Johannesburg soon after the bodies arrived aboard a government chartered plan.
The remains were taken to the Garankuwa Forensic Pathology Mortuary where they were prepared for transportation by road to their final destinations across the country.
The government said bodies destined for areas near the capital Pretoria had been transported to their final resting places by Monday.
Phumla Williams, a spokesperson for the inter-ministerial committee organising the repatriations said bodies being taken to faraway places would arrive on Thursday.
“Given the longer distances, Forensic Pathology Service vehicles are expected to arrive in the Free State and Eastern Cape on Thursday and the government continues to communicate with family members to explain the exact dates and times their loved ones are scheduled to arrive at the government mortuary nearest to the place of burial,” she said.
Williams said the government would continue to work with Nigerian authorities to bring back bodies that remained in Lagos.
“We wish to reassure the families of the 11 families that all possible efforts are being made to reunite them with their loved ones as quickly as circumstances permit,” she said.
“Nevertheless, given the amount of time that has passed since the incident happened and state of preservation of the mortal remains, the identification process has become increasingly challenging and may take some time to complete.”
Thousands of people from Southern Africa flock to TB Joshua’s services where they mostly seek healing for various ailments.