2 minute read
17 Sep 2014
7:33 am

Information scarce on South Africans killed in Nigeria

It was not clear how many South Africans were injured in the building collapse in Nigeria that killed 67 citizens, the department of international relations said on Wednesday morning.

FILE PICTURE: A handout photo taken and released by Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on September 12, 2014 shows emergency workers transporting an injured man on a stretcher after he was pulled out from the rubble of the collapsed guest house of The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) at the Ikotu headquarters of the church in Lagos. Picture: AFP / NEMA

The Star newspaper reported that more than 300 South Africans had been staying at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria which collapsed on Friday.

“We will provide more information once it becomes available,” international relations spokesman Clayson Monyela told Sapa.

He said the only the information available at the moment was the information contained in President Jacob Zuma’s statement on Tuesday evening.

At least five South African church tour groups were believed to have been staying at the church of faith healer TB Joshua at the time of the collapse, news reports said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening, Monyela posted a tweet on social networking site Twitter saying: “Our team in #Nigeria not getting the cooperation they need. Verification very difficult. As Maharaj said ‘take figure of 67 with caution’.”

Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj was quoted on the radio station PowerFM on Tuesday evening as saying the numbers should be taken with caution because it was still too early to confirm.

He said those with concerns about missing family members should call the Operations Centre on 012-351-1000.

Zuma said 67 South Africans had died when the multi-storey guesthouse belonging to the church collapsed on Friday.

“This is a particularly difficult time for South Africa. Not in the recent history of our country have we had this large number of our people die in one incident outside the country,” said Zuma.

“Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues that have lost their loved ones in this heart-breaking tragedy.

“The whole nation shares the pain of the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who have lost their loved ones. We are all in grief,” he said.

Monyela was unable to immediately confirm when the identities of those killed would be made public.

Zuma said he had directed various government departments to ensure that relatives of the deceased were taken to Nigeria to identify their loved one’s bodies.

Government wanted to ensure that the bodies were repatriated as soon as possible.