In a shocking incident, a 28-year-old South African man declared dead in a car accident was found alive a day later in the mortuary refrigerator. Msizi Mkhize, from KwaMashu near Durban, was declared dead at the accident scene and taken to a Phoenix mortuary but was found breathing the next day when his family went to view his body.
Shocked mortuary staff rushed Mkhize to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, but he died about five hours later, the Daily News reported.
Mkhize’s family now wants answers to how the blunder occurred and whether his life could have been saved if he was taken to hospital earlier.
Mkhize was hit by a car while walking home with a friend on December 5, according to his sister, Hlobisile.
He was allegedly declared dead at the scene by paramedics. The incident took a dramatic turn the next day when the family went to the mortuary to view the body, The morgue’s employee found the 28-year-old still alive in the refrigerator. His family believe the paramedics were negligent.
“We want to know who declared him dead. Is that person experienced enough to handle and make decisions in such situations?” Hlobisile was quoted as saying by the South African daily.
“This is painful and stressful for the family to establish that our brother and son had spent the night in the morgue Somewhere, somehow someone did not do their job. We want a full explanation from all concerned,” she said.
Her father, Peter Mkhize, said the family was traumatised. “I have no words to express how I feel about what happened to my child. To spend the entire night and morning in the mortuary refrigerator is wrong,” Peter said.
“We arrived there at 8 AM to do the paperwork and view the body of my child. It was after 12 PM when an employee told one of the doctors my son was alive,” he said.
Provincial police spokeswoman, Colonel Thandeka Mbhele confirmed the incident. Dr Rishigen Viranna, a general practitioner, has called for a full investigation into the “horror incident at Durban’s Phoenix mortuary”.
He said the incident had highlighted the “extreme shortcomings” within the provincial Health Department’s EMRS and mortuary services.
Health Department head, Dr Sifiso Mtshali, was quoted as saying, “The department cannot comment at this stage, as it is still gathering the facts regarding this matter.”