George building collapse: South Africa appeals to embassies for money to repatriate foreign workers

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The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said it is working with embassies and high commissions of countries including Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to facilitate the repatriation of foreign nationals who lost their lives in the George building collapse.

IOL reported on Tuesday morning that the George Municipality has confirmed the death toll of the building collapse has now risen to 32.

In its ninth day of rescue operations, emergency services personnel and volunteers have been on site for over 185 hours.

At least 20 other people remain missing and officials are still combing through the rubble.

The death toll from the George building collapse in Western Cape rose to 32 by Tuesday morning. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

In an interview with broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, Deputy Minister of International Relations, Alvin Botes said government is working closely with the diplomatic missions to ensure that the deceased workers get a decent send-off.

“As a government, we provide consular services which we have activated. That includes engagement with the embassy representatives of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Of course, the key issue will be the repatriation, given that the consular services do not encapsulate that aspect,” Botes spoke to the television channel after touring the site of the building collapse.

Deputy Minister of International Relations, Alvin Botes. File Picture

“It is for that reason that we wish to call on South Africans, private individuals and private sector to come out in support of providing materials, financial support to the families of the deceased to enable dignified transportation to the countries of origin.

“In particular, we want to call on the developer and the contracted company in particular to come up and show a sense of morality,” he said.

The deputy minister added that government believes the developers and contractors of the doomed building have “a unique responsibility” to cater for the deceased workers and the survivors pulled out of the rubble.

Rescue workers at the scene of the George building collapse. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

At the time of the building collapse on Monday last week, 81 workers were on site, of whom 61 have since been rescued and recovered. Twelve workers are currently hospitalised.

The deceased included 26 men and six women, while the 20 workers are unaccounted for.