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16 Nov 2014 16:33
74 bodies of South Africans killed in the church collapse in Nigeria in September arrived in Pretoria on Sunday morning. (Youtube)
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Sunday Pieter Fourie, who was a member of the medical team sent to Lagos for the repatriation of the church building collapse victims, died on Friday.
Radebe was addressing a ceremony welcoming the remains of 74 people who were killed in the Nigeria church building collapse in September.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the death of the 81 South Africans had united the nation in grief.
“This is indeed a sombre moment for the people of South Africa. The people who died were not mere statistics, but lived amongst us,” he said.
Ramaphosa said efforts are now being escalated to ensure that the bodies of 11 people who died in the Nigeria church building collapse are returned home, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Pretoria on Sunday.
“We will intensify our efforts to ensure that the bodies still in Nigeria are returned without delay,” he said at a ceremony at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, marking the arrival of the bodies of 74 victims.
Paramedics rushed towards some family members who began to weep hysterically as director-general in the presidency Cassius Lubisi proceeded to read out the names of the dead.
DNA samplingLate on Saturday night, it was announced that only 74 of the expected 85 bodies of victims would be returned to South Africa - apparently due to DNA sampling that still needed to be done by Nigerian authorities.
It has been a nearly two-month wait to receive the bodies of 81 South Africans, as well as three Zimbabwean and one Congolese national using South African travel papers, from Lagos.
A total of 116 people died on September 12 when a guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church Of All Nations in Lagos, headed by TB Joshua, collapsed.
The bodies are set to be transported via road to various provincial mortuaries before private funerals are arranged.
Twenty-six injured South Africans returned a month ago.
Twenty of them have since been discharged from hospitals and reunited with their families.–Sapa
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