. . . power cuts cited as major cause of closure
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
BEITBRIDGE mortuary has suspended operations leaving around 250 000 folks in the border town having to do with private morgues in the event of death of a family member.
The mortuary at the sole referral hospital was opened in the 1990’s and on Monday resolved to suspended mortuary services saying power cuts had made operations cumbersome.
The mortuary has a carrying capacity of 30 bodies and in some cases several bodies especially those forming party of police investigations or are un identified stay longer than three months.
These are usually disposed of through pauper burials following a lengthy strenuous process.
Hospital authorities said the move to close the morgue was necessitated by the power shortages induced by the current wave of electricity load shedding which has seen the health institutions and other key points in the border town going without power for almost 18 hours daily.
“Notice is hereby given that Beitbridge District Hospital has temporarily suspended mortuary services with immediate effect.
“This decision has been brought about as a result of the lengthy power cuts and high temperatures being experienced hence rendering the mortuary equipment non-functional.
“As a result of this no new bodies will be accepted for storage at the mortuary,” said the District Medical Officer Dr Linos Samhere in a notice.
The mortuary has been using a generator for power in the event of Zesa power cuts but the generator is said to have gave in and the costs of fuel to power it are threatening to cripple operations.
Beitbridge paramount chief Vho Stauze (David Mbedzi) said the situation at the hospital was heart breaking.
“It’s a really bad move. It’s devastating. Our district is very hot and we will really find it impossible to deal with this issue,” said the traditional leader.
“You will note that we have different social classes. We have those who have the means to take their relatives’ bodies to a private mortuary and those who can’t.
“Considering our current state of economy, it will really be hard to overcome this challenge.
“Now people have to bury relatives without other members. The situation becomes very complicated.”
Continued the chief; “I am calling upon the Government and other stakeholders to assist us in providing us with affordable power energy like solar system. Our people need a proper send off because people will be forced to bury the deceased the same day or a day after.”
Beitbridge’s Proportional Representation Member of Parliament Lisa Singo said a solution to resolve power issues must be arrived at without delay.
“Women, mostly the elderly bear the brunt of this calamity when it comes to raising funds for private parlours and other burial logistics, especially in a rural set up,” said the legislator.
It is estimated that the town’s population has been growing with 10 000 more people annually because of it economic activity and proximity to SADC’s economic power house South Africa.
H-Metro is reliably informed that the Registrar of Births and Death processes between 50 and 60 burial orders monthly around Beitbridge.
A further 400 are processed for those who would have died in South Africa and those intended for burial in Beitbridge district will have to make use of private morgues locally who charge anything between R2000 ($2000) and R4000 ($4000) for mortuary services.