Nigeria collapse: Dead South Africans to be repatriated

An inter-ministerial task team is working with Nigerian authorities to repatriate 84 South Africans who died.

A victim of the Nigerian building collapse is stretchered into the Steve Biko Academic Hospital on Monday 22 September 2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The inter-ministerial task team established to deal with the Nigerian building collapse says the main priority now is to repatriate 84 South Africans who died.

On Monday, a chartered airplane landed at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria, bringing back home 25 of the 26 citizens who were injured after a guest house at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos came crashing down more than a week ago.

One man opted to remain in Nigeria and stay with 'Prophet' TB Joshua's church.

A total of 115 people died in the building collapse.

A moment of silence was observed when the grey C-130 aircraft landed at the base on Monday, finally bringing back home the injured, among them two young orphans.

The toddlers lost both their parents in the tragedy and will be discharged into the care of their relatives once they have been cleared by doctors.

The two are 18-months and two-years old.

Government says, for now, the two children will stay in the care of the social workers who accompanied them on the flight from Nigeria.

Other patients included a man who had gangrene and three others whose legs had to be amputated in Nigeria.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe has urged South Africans to unite behind these families.

"This tragedy must be dealt with in a manner it deserves."

The minister says government is now anxiously awaiting the outcome of the investigation into the collapse.

"We need to get to the bottom of the cause of the collapse."

Radebe called Monday's operation a major milestone for the country and affected families.

A South African team of specialists is now assisting Nigerian authorities to identify the bodies of the deceased through DNA testing and bring their remains home.