South African survivors of the fatal collapse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), which occurred on February 12 in Ikotun, Lagos have returned to their home country.
A military plane, which was delayed for four hours, arrived at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria at 10:42 on Monday morning.
Most of the patients were brought out of the plane on stretchers and taken to ambulances parked nearby.
Minister Jeff Radebe, spokesperson of the inter-ministerial task team set up by President Jacob Zuma to co-ordinate the SA government’s response to the tragedy, announced that the delay was caused by a shortage of ambulances in Lagos.
The C130 SA Air Force plane carrying the passengers which had been converted into an ambulance was led by a highly experienced team of medical officers from the army.
On its landing, the SA military, Tshwane metro police and EMS emergency services worked as a collaborative force to ensure the safe arrival of the survivors and speedy transportation to the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria where survivors were set to be reunited with their families.
Radebe revealed that the total number of fatalities in the accident was 115 people 86 of whom were South African. Some of the remaining 26 survivors obtained severe injuries, three of whom had to have their limbs amputated, one of whom developed gangrene another with kidney failure and is currently on dialyses.
Most tragic was the return of three children who were among the injured, including an 18-month-old baby and a two-year-old toddler who were left orphaned after both their parents died in the tragedy.
“The department of social development will assist the children moving within the realms of the laws and policies available to them to this process,” said Radebe.
Radebe also revealed government plans to repatriate South African’s who died in Nigeria following DNA examination.
He also disclosed that his government has not received any communication from founder of the church, Temitope Balogun “TB” Joshua.
The Nigerian government is said to be conducting their own investigation as to what was the original cause of the collapse.
TB Joshua on Sunday said he would travel to South Africa in the coming weeks to meet families and survivors of the building collapse.
Joshua told the congregation during his weekly morning service that he “will be travelling to South Africa to meet people from South Africa and other nations who find South Africa easier to visit, in memory of martyrs of faith.” Joshua also observed a minute silence “in memory of martyrs of faith”.
President Goodluck Jonathan visited the church on Saturday and promised to investigate the cause of the tragedy. He said he would hold talks with stakeholders in the construction industry on how to prevent a repeat of the tragedy, adding that he had expressed his sympathies to South African President Jacob Zuma.