The ANC saluted and thanked President Jacob Zuma on Sunday for intervening in the prolonged repatriation of the bodies of 85 people killed over two months ago in a church building collapse in Nigeria.
“The situation of delayed repatriation of the deceased made the pain and agony of the bereaved families unbearable and traumatic,” African National Congress national spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.
“We appreciate the role of the President’s Special Envoy, Comrade [and Minister in the Presidency] Jeff Radebe and the Inter Ministerial Committee to bring to an end the delay that has spanned over two months.”
The ruling party further extended its “heartfelt condolences” to all the families of those killed in the building collapse.
“We trust our government will do everything possible to repatriate the remaining victims. May their souls rest in peace,” Kodwa said.
Earlier on Sunday, the remains of 74 people killed in the Nigeria building collapse arrived in South Africa.
After the plane carrying the remains landed, Radebe told the SABC that the repatriation was traumatic, especially for the families of the 11 victims whose remains were still in Nigeria.
“But President [Jacob] Zuma has made a commitment that we need to make sure that we leave no stone unturned, and that all 85 must be brought back home,” he said.
“But that is dependent on the Nigerian authorities who are responsible for these DNA samples. We are going to work with them to ensure that eventually, [the other victims]… are brought back when it is humanly and scientifically possible.”
A total of 116 people — 81 of them South African, and three Zimbabweans and a Congolese national using South African travel papers — died on September 12 when a guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church Of All Nations in Lagos, headed by preacher TB Joshua, collapsed.
Twenty-six injured South Africans returned a month ago. Twenty of them have since been discharged from hospitals and reunited with their families. SAPA