GOVERNMENT officials in Beitbridge, who are grappling with a mortuary crisis following the suspension of morgue services at the 160-bed Beitbridge District Hospital last week, are seeking authority to conduct pauper burials for eight unclaimed bodies, Southern Eye has learnt.


An SOS has already been sent to stakeholders and steps are said to be underway to get authority for pauper burials of some of the bodies.

A stakeholder, who asked not to be named, said pauper burials had been suggested, but these would take up to two weeks due to bureaucracy.

“There are six minors, mostly stillbirth products and two adults, who are yet to be identified,” the stakeholder said.

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As an immediate solution, officials are engaging Zesa Holdings for a waiver of power cuts at the hospital.

Alternatively, they require $230 000 to repair the hospital’s standby generator to mitigate the crisis aggravated by incessant heat experienced in the Limpopo basin, where the institution is located.

“Those are the couple of options we have at the moment. Either Zesa spares the hospital from load-shedding, or we have to find that amount ($230 000) to repair the hospital standby generator,” Beitbridge district co-ordinator Sikhangezile Mafu told Southern Eye yesterday.

“The first option is more practical and sustainable,” she said.

“We have spoken with the local Zesa authorities ,who have assured us our request for a waiver of load-shedding at the hospital has been taken up to higher authorities.”

Repairs of the generator, as the second option, were costly. Extra funds would be required for fuel.

Beitbridge district health executive in charge of Beitbridge Hospital, a referral centre for the district’s 120 000 people, and a further transit population of about 10 000 a day of late, suspended mortuary operations due to incessant power outages.

The power shortages also affected water supply.

Staff at the hospital said keeping the mortuary clean under the circumstances was impossible.
“Some bodies had maggots,” a source said.

Although Mafu did not confirm, it is understood stakeholders had sent out an SOS to police to collect bodies it deposited at the hospital.

A Beitbridge resident, Elias Chibi, questioned why it had taken long for government to upgrade Beitbridge Hospital to a central institution, which would pave way for superior cash injection.

“It’s absurd that government fails to appreciate the difference between this hospital and any other district hospital. This hospital serves the region, considering it’s at the country and sub-Saharan Africa’s busiest port. At times, there are decisions that should be made which need no effort,” he said.

“Can you imagine what is going to happen considering our holidays are known to have many fatal accidents. What plans are there for such eventualities without a mortuary here?”

Mafu said stakeholders, particularly the business community, would be approached to assist in raising the amount required to repair the hospital’s generator.