Bodies rot as Ga-Rankuwa mortuary has no working generator

Relatives are traumatised as bodies deteriorate at the Ga-Rankuwa state mortuary whenever there’s an Eskom power cut as there is no functional emergency generator since February this year.

According to Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature:

“A dysfunctional emergency generator has contributed largely to the situation, including frequent load shedding and electricity reductions in the Garankuwa area. In case of load shedding, bodies are temporarily stored in freezer storage and taken out early in the morning for post-mortem.”

Mokgethi also details a series of incidents starting on 26 February when the back-up generator failed after an Eskom substation collapsed. Bodies were transferred to the Pretoria Forensic Laboratory Service facility on 27 February and were only returned on 1 March.

On 5 March the generator again failed and it was reported that the fuel tank needed to be cleaned.

The root of the problem is poor service from the Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department (GDID), which is responsible for the generators at Gauteng’s eight provincial mortuaries which do autopsies for all unnatural deaths.

On 10 March it was determined that the Ga-Rankuwa mortuary’s generator needed a new alternator. But despite many requests, the GDID said that they were “having a challenge of getting Purchase Order approval as some of the approving officials were on suspension.”

On 26 May, GDID attended to the generator but used the old alternator, so they need to be called if the electricity goes off to start the generator manually.

The latest is that GDID Tshwane office “still awaits approval for the appointment of a contractor by the GDID Supply Chain Management Unit.”

Meanwhile, funeral operators complain that bodies from this mortuary come to them in a poor state, which upsets relatives.

This distressing saga highlights once again the necessity of the DA’s call to shut down the dysfunctional and corrupt GDID and devolve maintenance to health facilities who will do a better job.