Church collapse: Fingerprint data to verify deceased

Officials are trying to match them with that of the deceased.

FILE: Rescue workers clear away mattresses used by occupants of the collapsed guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) at Ikotun in Lagos on 17 September, 2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says fingerprint data is being used to verify the exact number of South Africans who were killed in the Lagos tragedy earlier this month.

A guest house attached to the Synagogue Church of all Nations, run by Nigerian preacher TB Joshua collapsed on 12 September killing 115 people.

Eighty four South Africans are believed to have been killed.

Radebe says all fingerprints have now been captured and officials are trying to match them with the profiles of the missing South Africans.

"The prints are currently being run through the finger print databases of the Department of Home Affairs and the South African Police Service.

"We expect that this process of comparing the fingerprints should be completed by the end of the week."

While giving an update on developments in Nigeria today Radebe revealed that only 18 postmortems have been concluded.

Radebe says the identification process has to take place in accordance with Nigerian law.

"A postmortem has to be performed on all deceased persons and death certificates have to be re-issued before the mortal remains may be repatriated back home to South Africa."

Radebe says it is likely to take "a considerable amount of time" before the bodies of the South Africans killed in the disaster are flown home.