Most bodies of about 80 South Africans and three Zimbabweans who met their creator when a church building belong to Prophet TB Joshua collapsed in Lagos on the 12th September, have decomposed beyond recognition after being kept in cheap fan powered (supermarket style) coolers, it has emerged.
Most of the Nigerian mortuaries the bodies are being kept cool only by fans, with no refrigeration. The development comes after it further emerged the process to identify the bodies will take several months.
While denying the revelations, the Nigerian government have yet admitted the bodies are now decomposed to a state they cannot be viewed by relatives without causing trauma.
"Out of concern for potential secondary trauma to the families as well as public health considerations, government discourages all families from viewing the mortal remains," said an official.
The bodies include that of top MDC-T official Greenwich Ndanga who was a pastor and had travelled for his pilgrimage to see TB Joshua before meeting his fate.
According to a government official who did not want to be named, the delays have been caused by the political haggling between South Africa and Nigeria.
But more than 80 bodies of South Africans have not been returned to Mzansi, and there is no word on when the remains will be returned to their loved ones.
"We still don’t know. Even as we speak, the laboratory in Lagos has not given us an update. The laboratory reports directly to the Nigerian government, not to us. We hope to have more information by the end of the week," said South African government spokeswoman Phumla Williams yesterday.
Williams said they will have a media briefing when they receive new information.
On 12 September, 116 people, among them 84 South Africans, were killed in the collapse of a multi-storey guest- house attached to TB Joshua’s Synagogue Church of all Nations.
Last Sunday, Professor John Obafunwa, chief medical examiner of Lagos State, was quoted as saying the bodies would be home in three weeks.