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  • A coffin containing the body of a migrant who died, is carried off a navy ship at the Sicilian harbor of Empedocle, December 5, 2014.

    A coffin containing the body of a migrant who died, is carried off a navy ship at the Sicilian harbor of Empedocle, December 5, 2014. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Published 1 November 2018
Opinion

From Hillbrow, after research, they are taken to Olifantsvlei cemetery in Johannesburg. The bodies are then grouped in fives and buried together in nine-feet-deep holes.

In South Africa’s Guateng (Land of Gold) province, 4,311 migrants have been reported dead, between 2014 and 2017, and remain unidentified.

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When undocumented migrants pass away and they remain unclaimed, they are not repatriated. “A lot of dead bodies end up in a mortuary in Hillbrow, one of the city’s most dangerous and notorious neighborhoods, for pathological research. It’s South Africa’s biggest morgue, with 3,000 bodies being investigated every year. Ten percent of those remain unclaimed and unidentified,” according to the Daily Journal.

But, this is not the last stop. From Hillbrow, after research, they are taken to Olifantsvlei cemetery, in the city of Johannesburg. The bodies are then grouped in fives and buried together in nine-feet-deep holes.

The graves are marked by insignia that read basic information such as “Unknown B/Male” in areas labeled with plaques that read “Pauper Block.”

African migrants come to the province of Guateng looking for work in the prospering underground economy.

Authorities keep DNA records of the diseased which are used to build a database for the purpose of identifying the bodies in the future.

This type of report is very difficult, and it can only be considered an approximation since there are difficulties in obtaining accurate information. For example, many families do not report their missing because of their illegal status, or for a lack of knowledge of their destinations and whereabouts after leaving home.

The anti-immigration sentiment, which translates to concrete political policies, both the in the United States and Europe is generating a decrease in funding for migrant support projects which means fewer resources are allocated to tracking migrants, according to The Republic.

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