Nigeria tragedy: A family's anguish

Sifiso Ngwenya’s aunt is one of 11 South Africans whose body has not yet been repatriated.

FILE: Rescue workers clear away mattresses used by occupants of the collapsed guest house of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos on 17 September 2014. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - While the remains of 74 South Africans were returned home on Sunday, 11 have not yet been identified and remain in Nigeria.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphos a on Sunday said the challenge is to now repatriate their remains, which are still in Nigeria.

More than 100 people died when a guest house at 'Prophet' TB Joshua's the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in September.

The collapse occurred when three extra storeys were being added to the existing two of the guest house in the church compound, where visitors from abroad stay.

An inquiry is still underway to determine what caused the tragedy.

It's understood authorities are still trying to identify them.

One of these people is the aunt of Sifiso Ngwenya.

Ngwenya has expressed frustration on Twitter that his aunt has still not been identified.

We are calling 4 the return of My aunt #NigeriaCollapse @SAfmnews @RediTlhabi @imanrappetti @SAgovnews @_AfricanUnion

Traumatic news ,to hear my aunts bdy is nt found #NigeriaCollapse @Sabcnewsonline @imanrappetti @RediTlhabi @PresidencyZA @ThuliMadonsela3

Other Fams will be burying their Fam members in Dignity, My aunt is not found #NigeriaCollapse @Zwelinzima1 @PresidencyZA @SAgovnews ?????

Bodies are returned on Sunday, My aunt isn't found,Worst news 4 My Fam #NigeriaCollapse @SAfmnews @SAgovnews @Radio702 @PresidencyZA

He said, "We have received messages from government, telling us that they're doing their best to fast track the return."

But Ngwenya says he doesn't believe much has been done.

"Yes we are appreciative for the families who have received their deceased, but obviously it's painful to our family that we're still waiting for so long for the return of our aunt."

He says seeing other families receive the remains of their loved ones makes the pain more severe for him and his family.

"It makes the pain more severe because we had high hopes that our aunt was going to be returned with the 74, even though we'd not received confirmation from government."

He says the pain of not knowing increases by the day.

"We no longer need answers or updates, all we're asking for is for the return of our beloved."


The bodies of the 74 victims were handed over to their families at a special ceremony at the Waterkloof Air Force Base on Sunday and the remains will be transported to locations around the country to be buried.

A man named Gabriel, from Atteridgeville near Pretoria, says two of his cousins were returned to him.

"They were returned on Sunday. They leave behind four children. Their first born is in grade 11 and the second is in grade 3 while the twins are in grade R."

"I am so relieved because they told me they even received death certificates."

He says the funerals will take place on Saturday.