Pinetown mortuary crisis – DA calls for urgent oversight visit

Makhosazana Mdlalose, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

The Democratic Alliance has called for an urgent oversight visit to the Pinetown mortuary, following claims by staff that their work environment is a “living hell” with conditions at the facility “horrific”.

According to a media report, staff are working 16 hour shifts, are underpaid and constantly exposed to life-threatening diseases. Workers are demanding an upgrade to the facility amid claims that they are forced to work with outdated, constantly broken equipment including malfunctioning fridges.

Workers also claim that the facility has no rape kits, no measuring equipment to conduct proper analysis on bodies and a lack of proper protective wear, with staff forced to re-use surgical gloves which often break.  They must also bath in cold water after conducting autopsies as there is no hot water.  They also claim that regular tests for Hepatitis B and other diseases are not done and that the department does not provide for any form of counselling in order to ensure their mental well-being.

They have slammed the province’s department of Health, accusing officials of being disinterested in their plight.

Given the general state of public health care in the province, it is distressing to learn of yet another mortuary crisis in KwaZulu-Natal.  Equally alarming is that the department has allegedly failed to respond to staff members’ pleas for intervention and is only now – when the story hits the media – agreeing to investigate.

The DA proposes an urgent oversight visit to this facility in order to establish the magnitude of the problem.  Once this has taken place, we will demand action from the department so that the situation is rectified. Officials can no longer turn a blind eye to these appalling claims – something has to be done.