Nigeria building collapse: ‘Obtaining DNA is extremely difficult’

Genetic testing to identify the remains of 84 South Africans killed in the Nigerian building collapse was extremely difficult, the Saturday Star reported.

Dr Munro Marx, head of Stellenbosch University’s Unistel Medical Laboratories genetic testing centre that conducted the testing, said it was “by far … most difficult matchings we have been expected to do”.

“In the temperatures and humidity of Lagos, decomposition happens pretty fast,” he told the newspaper.

Recovery of the bodies only began four or five days after a guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church Of All Nations in Lagos – headed by preacher TB Joshua – collapsed on September 12, killing 116 people.

“So when they recovered the bodies they embalmed the bodies.” The chemicals used, however, penetrate tissues and bone meaning that “obtaining DNA is extremely difficult”.


“The 116 samples that we got were really not at all of a good quality.”

DNA samples needed
The samples were numbered but to identify the remains, DNA samples needed to be taken from the victims’ family members.

The state disaster management team, made up of health department and police officials, would be responsible for taking DNA from the families.

Marx described the task of the five geneticists working on the DNA tests as “extremely stressful”.

“We were working almost around the clock every day”. – Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sapa
Guest Author

Related stories

Extract from ‘The Journey’: Responses to the archive

This sequence of texts was written in response to various photographs of Nigeria made between 1920 and 1929 that form part of the Colonial Office photographic collection

The world’s warriors are under attack, but we must keep on fighting

The murder of Fikile Ntshangase in KwaZulu-Natal was not an isolated incident. Around the globe, from Nigeria to Brazil, environmental activists are similarly being silenced, and it is our duty to continue this struggle

Nigeria’s queers say ‘enough’

Notorious police unit that harassed LGBTQ+ community disbanded after widespread protests.

Meet Donald Trump’s Nigerian cheerleaders

If Nigerians got to choose the next US president, Donald Trump would be the clear favourite

Why anti-corruption campaigns are bad for democracy

Such campaigns can draw attention to the widespread presence of the very behaviour they are trying to stamp out — and subconsciously encourage people to view it as appropriate

Inside the illicit trade in West Africa’s oldest artworks

Nok terracottas are proof that an ancient civilisation once existed in Nigeria. Now they are at the centre of a multimillion-dollar, globe-spanning underground industry — and once again, Nigeria is losing out
Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

‘We struggle for water, but power stations and coal mines...

A proposed pipeline will bring water polluted with Gauteng’s sewage to the Waterberg in Limpopo to boost the coal industry during the climate crisis

Journey through anxious Joburg

A new book has collected writing about the condition of living, yes, with a high crime rate, but also other, more pervasive existential urban stresses particular to the Global South

Football legend Maradona dies

The Argentinian icon died at his home on Wednesday, two weeks after having surgery on a blood clot in his brain

Covid vaccines: Hope balanced with caution

As Covid vaccines near the manufacturing stage, a look at two polio vaccines provides valuable historical insights
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…