“He dragged their bodies across the cold, hard ground, over bricks and stones, and stuffed them into two bags like they were pieces of wood which he then tossed into the van.”
Clare Estate Action Committee (CEAC) chairman and Kwazulu-Natal Community Crime Prevention Association (CCPA) member, Vincent Chetty, said he is appalled at the callous manner in which an employee from Forensic Pathology Services Unit, handled the bodies of the two little girls who demised in the Kennedy Road wall collapse on Monday afternoon. The five and seven-year-old girls were crushed to death whilst a third child, a five-year-old, sustained injuries and was taken to hospital.
Speaking to The Weekly Gazette, Chetty said it was an atrocity beyond words. He was the first responder on scene after receiving a call about an unconfirmed wall collapse and children trapped underneath.
“Upon arrival on scene, I was met with a hectic sight. One girl was presumed dead at the time and the second child was fading away. The third little girl was injured but stable. Medical and Rescue personnel arrived on scene within minutes as dispatched via the Emergency Control South Africa (ECSA) service. Life Response 24/7 was first on scene, followed by several other services. Community members also gathered in their numbers,” said Chetty.
Rescue Care Operations Director, Garrith Jamieson, said, “Rescue Care Paramedics arrived on the scene to find chaos. A wall had collapsed onto three young girls playing in the driveway crushing them. Unfortunately, two of the young children had sustained major injuries and there was nothing more paramedics could do for them and they were declared deceased on the scene. The third child had sustained moderate injuries and was stabilised on the scene before being transported to a nearby hospital for the further care that she required.”
Chetty said, “A worker nearby said he had witnessed the children swinging on the gate earlier and had cautioned them to stop as they could get hurt. He then returned to his work and the three girls continued playing on the gate. One of the deceased, the five-year-old, resided at the rear of the premises whilst the other two girls, one deceased and one injured lived further up the road. The worker said he then heard a crash and shouts and that’s when disaster unfolded. It is unknown specifically what caused the wall to collapse but it is gathered that a tree growing close to the wall with its invasive roots caused the wall to weaken and collapse. It’s all the explanation we have for now.”
He added, “Emotions were running high at the scene and the disgusting actions of the forensic pathology employee just added to the distress of the families present. Family and community members from the informal settlement and residences nearby watched the inhumane behaviour in horror and screamed for him to stop. We, as a community, will definitely be calling for the Department of Health (DOH) to intervene and probe the matter. It was one man who removed both the girls’ bodies. Help was available if he requested. There was no need for that terrible treatment of the deceased. ”
The Weekly Gazette contacted the DOH with regards to the allegations levelled against the forensic pathology employee and spokesperson for the KZN Department of Health Ncumisa Mafunda said, “Without prejudice, the Department would like to convey its deepest condolences to the family/families that have lost loved ones. The Department is extremely concerned by the allegations levelled against a staff member from the Forensic Pathology Services unit, and views them in a serious light. The Department is conducting an internal investigation into this matter, and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against any person(s) who may be found guilty of wrongdoing.”
Chetty said all emergency and rescue personnel as well as police services must be commended for their swift response to the scene and for the respectful manner in which they carried out their duties. He also praised members of the community and residents for their support to the grieving families.