Government is preparing to repatriate more bodies that have remained in Nigeria, following the building collapse at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), last year.
“I am happy to announce that today … a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) C130 aircraft with a repatriation team is departing to Lagos (Nigeria) to bring the mortal remains of those that have been positively identified,” Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Monday.
The number of South Africans that will be repatriated was not immediately available.
Last year, 85 South Africans were killed and 26 were injured during a tragic incident in Nigeria. Seventy-four bodies have since been repatriated along with all the injured.
“The C130 aircraft is expected back at the Waterkloof Air Force Base on the evening of Wednesday,” Minister Radebe said.
The mortal remains will be transported from Waterkloof to the nearest government mortuaries. Government social workers are in continuous communication with the families of the deceased.
“The long wait for these families, friends and communities is finally over,” Minister Radebe said.
He said the South African government had been working tirelessly with the Nigerian government in the past two months to try and positively identify the mortal remains of the remaining South Africans.
“Fresh samples were collected from the 11 families for further verification tests,” he said.
Government has encouraged anyone in need of grief counselling services to call the Social Development Department’s toll-free number on 0800 428 428.
They can alternatively send a “please call me” text message to: *120*7867# and a professional counsellor will call them back.
The grief counselling services are available freely to those who wish to use them.
“Government expresses its appreciation to the Nigerian authorities for the cooperation accorded to us during the identification and repatriation of the injured and deceased South Africans.
“All this work was done in a professional and cordial manner due to their assistance and support,” Minister Radebe said.
Source : SAnews.gov.za