'His face, nose, head, feet, hands and private parts were bitten off.'
A Bronkhorstspruit family have told of their horror and agony when they went to identify a relative at the Germiston mortuary and found parts of his body bitten off by rats.
Moses Molakeng said the family went to identify his father at the troubled Germiston mortuary and made this grisly discovery.
William Mokoena was taken to the facility, which was hit by a strike over lack of protective gear on April 19 after he allegedly committed suicide.
Molakeng said when his father’s corpse was taken away from his home in Palm Ridge, Ekurhuleni, it was in good condition.
“When we went to identify him, he was not the way we knew him. What I saw was traumatic. I was hospitalised because of it and I am still struggling to come to terms with what I saw,” he said.
The family said Director Mkhabela, who manages the Germiston mortuary, confirmed that rats had feasted on the deceased, leaving the corpse mutilated.
“His face, nose, head, feet, hands and private parts were bitten off.
“When I demanded answers from authorities at the mortuary, the manager, Director Mkhabela, told me that my father was bitten by rats. I was shocked,” Molakeng said.
He said the family were traumatised.
“We could not recognise him. We had to go in, one after another, to identify my father and make sure it was him.
“We had to look for his birthmarks to ascertain that it was him. It is painful,” Molakeng said.
He said he could not believe what Mkhabela was telling him, and the family had demanded to see CCTV footage.
“His condition did not seem like he was bitten by rats. Mkhabela told me that what they saw from the footage was scary and would not allow us to view it.
“My pleas fell on deaf ears. I still go to the mortuary but I am sent from pillar to post. Mkhabela told me that the footage showed ‘cultural things’, and workers at the facility had to be careful around issues like that.
“I do not know where that leaves us as a family. Mkhabela has been sending me from pillar to post and told me that he was waiting for a report into the matter,” Molakeng said.
In recordings of some of the meetings between the family and Mkhabela, which The Star heard, the family ask why the mortuary does not have pest control and sought answers as to how the rats got inside the body bag the corpse was stored in.
“We are left with more questions than answers,” Molakeng said.
He said the family wanted answers to find closure, adding that when they first reported the matter to the police, they were turned away.
“We want the department to pay for damages. We haven’t been able to find answers as to what happened to my father,” Molakeng said.
Gauteng Forensic Pathology Services acting chief executive Dr Mosou Morule confirmed that the family had lodged a complaint regarding the alleged deformed body.
“We would like to put it on record that there is no proof that the body was deformed as a result of the rat bites as it is alleged,” Morule said.
He said there was a follow-up meeting with the family last week.
“At no stage were the rats discussed nor was any footage shown to the family. In addition to this, the facility made an undertaking to the family that the matter will be thoroughly investigated and that no stone will be left unturned.
“Part of the investigation will also include the interrogation of the post-mortem report. In general, the department is very concerned about the rampant increase of rat infestation in the country. The facility follows known practices related to pest control at all times,” Morule said.