85 unclaimed bodies in northern mortuaries

Eighty-five unclaimed bodies are lying in state mortuaries in the Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto regions.

Of these, 17 are in the Onandjokwe Hospital mortuary, 23 at Engela, 39 at Eenhana, four at

Okongo and two at Oshakati.

According to a report from Onandjokwe Hospital that was issued two weeks ago, some of the deceased died some time last year but their families have not yet come forward to claim their bodies.

The report indicates that some of the deceased have been in the mortuaries since February 2023.

The deceased include a mix of adults (both Namibian and Angolan nationals) and children.

Josua Nghipangelwa

Oshikoto regional health director Josua Nghipangelwa said in Oshikonto , five of the deceased are adults (two Angolans and three Namibian), while 12 are children and babies.

He said the bodies should be collected from the mortuary within 14 days and if they stay longer they may decompose.

Nghipangelwa said some bodies remain in the mortuary unclaimed for a year and when the morgue is full, they request permission to hold a pauper’s burial.

He urged families who may face financial constraints to notify the health directorate in the region for possible assistance.

An official from Oshakati Intermediate Hospital has confirmed that there are unclaimed bodies in the hospital mortuary, while hospital superintendent Ruben Kanime did not respond to questions sent to him last week.

Oshana police spokesperson chief inspector Thomas Aiyambo said there are two unclaimed bodies at the police morgue at Oshakati Police Station. The bodies have been in the mortuary since last year November and December.

Meanwhile, Ohangwena health director George Jeremia said the situation of unclaimed bodies in hospital mortuaries is reflected in many other regions.

Jeremia said there are 43 unclaimed bodies in morgues in the Ohangwena region, with most being babies. He said the majority of the babies were born prematurely.

Jeremia further said three unclaimed bodies of adults and those of 36 babies are at Eenhana District Hospital.

According to him, although the mothers of the babies register the names of their villages in Namibia, they are nowhere to be found when the hospitals try to trace them.

Jeremia said when bodies remain in morgues for too long, hospitals get court permits and ministerial approval allowing the government to conduct burials for the deceased.

Jeremia urged family members with loved ones’ bodies at hospital mortuaries to claim them.

“Everything is changing nowadays, from the increasing population, deaths and many other things. Having too many unclaimed bodies is also a problem when the mortuary breaks, because it can break down anytime, and the procurement processes are not so favourable when it comes to fixing it. We thus call on families to come forward and claim their loved ones’ bodies for burials.

“This will also create space for those bodies that are coming in. Even if you do not have funds to do a burial, come forward and tell us so that we can make arrangements,” said Jeremia.

Ministry of Health and Social Services executive director Ben Nangombe told The Namibian last week that families from marginalised communities who are unable to bury their loved ones can get assistance from the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.

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