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Okahandja Mortuary Dead Since January

By: Kelvin Chiringa

The mortuary for the Okahandja State Hospital has not been functioning for almost three months now, forcing residents to pay for private facilities.

Two councillors, Akser Aupindi and Charl Coetzee, have written in their private capacities to the regional director of health for the Otjozondjupa region, Gebhard Timotheus, pleading for the situation at the mortuary to be fixed with immediate effect.

In their letter dated 30 March 2022, the councillors expressed that they received complaints from emotional residents of Okahandja that the mortuary had been out of action since January.

“We have confirmed this ourselves through a site visit and deem this situation as serious and the duration unacceptable. On 3 March 2022, we approached the hospital management and the ministry of works here in Okahandja, where we were informed that they were busy with a bill of quantities for the repairs needed. Since then, we have no updates, and the dire situation seems to be unchanged,” they told Gebhardo Timotheus, regional head director of health.

The councillors further pleaded with him to attend to the situation with haste to reduce the suffering of the bereaved families.

They have also requested to be kept updated on the strategy and timeline of the repairs to be availed with the opportunity to keep residents informed on the matter.

The Otjozondjupa governor, James Uerikua, under whose jurisdiction Okahandja falls, has in the meantime expressed that his office has not been informed on the matter.

However, he did express that he was aware that the mortuary has been having difficulties with capacity.

“No, I know nothing. I would have already reacted had I known about it. The mortuary did not have sufficient capacity to be able to handle all the bodies as they were coming at a rapid rate. But as far as that is concerned, a certain company provided them with a cooler container, which was used to take the corpses that were overflowing from the main mortuary. In terms of the mortuary, as you are asking now, being out of function, it is not something that I am aware of,” he said.

Further, a disgruntled resident, who wrote to the councillors and addressed Eagle FM, blamed the situation at the Okahandja mortuary on incompetence.

“Tears are running over my cheeks (I am so emotional), and I regret being a human being. People are so careless but hold offices to collect fat salaries for their families. Imagine a state hospital has been left without a mortuary since January, but no one sees this as wrong.

“Okahandja is a town with a capacity of 27 000 inhabitants, according to the 2011 census report. Since we wrote a letter of grievances, there has been no response from any office. We plan to travel to Windhoek next week to engage the Deputy Minister of Health, Esther Muinjangue, for possible solutions; otherwise, we will see Honorable Kalumbi Shangula raise the issue.

“The people who are visiting the hospital and those who are dying there are the same people who are paying for services at the municipality and driving the town’s economy. Therefore, their problems are our problems too. I can’t imagine dying today in Okahandja, and they have to call my mother to come to choose which private undertaker she prefers to store my remains? Honestly? The public is bleeding, and leaders are not either available or ready for help. We are left with the only hope is Jesus to come. Please help us,” said the disgruntled resident.

The health director, Timotheus, expressed that the fault with the mortuary was too technical for him to know what exactly was needed to be repaired.

“What I can tell you is that the ministry of health and social services, together with the ministry of works, have already put mechanisms in place that this mortuary will be repaired as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I have not really established. I am not really a mechanical person to know exactly what is wrong. It can be anything from, maybe the cooling system, I believe, and that is why it is very difficult for me to say what is wrong,” he said.


Kelvin Chiringa

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