Mortal remains could be repatriated this weekend
Special Envoy and Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, says if all goes well government should be able to repatriate the mortal remains of the South Africans who died in Nigeria as soon as this weekend.
President Jacob Zuma last week appointed the Minister as the South African government Special Envoy to go to Nigeria to engage with Nigerian authorities with a view to expedite the repatriation process.
It has been two months since the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) guesthouse in Lagos collapsed. A total of 81 South Africans are presumed to have died in the tragedy.
Briefing media on Tuesday evening in Lagos, following his meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, Minister Radebe said: “If everything goes well we should be able to repatriate them this coming Saturday in order to arrive in South Africa on Sunday.”
He said government was ready to repatriate the bodies.
“… we stand ready. As soon as we get a green light, we will repatriate. Our infrastructure is ready; the aircraft to transport our compatriots is also ready.”
He had on Monday paid a courtesy visit to President Jonathan to convey a message from President Jacob Zuma about the need to speed up the process of repatriating the South Africans who perished in the incident.
Minister Radebe said he was happy that President Jonathan was not only committed to the process, but had on several occasions been in communication with President Zuma to indicate their full support to ensuring the South Africans, as well as three from Zimbabwe and one from the DRC who were travelling on a South African passport, are repatriated.
“We are confident that after that discussion we are going to be seeing progress towards finalising this very traumatic experience.
“A few minutes ago, we also met with the Commissioner for Health in this State of Lagos. He also made his own commitment to finalising this process. As we are all aware, there is a team established by the State of Lagos to work on the identification process to ensure that all the deceased are positively identified.”
Minister Radebe will on Wednesday meet with the Governor of the State of Lagos to finalise all the processes.
He added that it had been an extraordinarily long time for the families to have to wait for the bodies of their loved ones.
“We also acknowledge the patience of these families during this difficult time. They have had to endure the pain, suffering and emotions of the endless wait. We hope that this weekend these families will be able to have closure to this very tragic event,” said the Minister. – SAnews.gov.za
Photo Caption: Special Envoy and Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe. Photo courtesy of www.timeslive.co.za
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