Coffins containing the corpses of 16 adults and 26 stillborn babies have been left stranded on the M1 highway in Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department said on Wednesday.
The 42 bodies were being transported in an open trailer from Charlotte Maxeke Hospital to Olifantsvlei Cemetery in Eldorado Park, to be buried.
JMPD spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said they received a call about a trailer that had broken down on the M1 South, between the Smit and Carr on-ramp.
Minnaar said officers found that the trailer’s wheel had dislodged.
“The driver did not have any documentation proving that they are a registered mortuary, or any hospital documentation to move the bodies. We will investigate the reason why the 42 coffins were being transported together,” Minnaar said.
Member of the Mayoral Council for Public Safety Michael Sun said the manner in which the bodies were transported was not hygienic and showed no respect for the deceased and their families.
“We call upon the provincial department of health to conduct a full investigation and also [the] South Africa[n] Police Service to further investigate to ensure there is no foul play,” Sun said.