After spending 21 hours inside the morgue, the Eastern Cape resident’s screams were heard, however, terrified attendants believed the screams to be a ghost and fled from the mortuary.
The region’s health department spokesperson told the Sapa news agency that the attendants later returned and called an ambulance, and that the man was treated for dehydration.
“Doctors put him under observation and concluded that he was stable,” said Eastern Cape health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo. “He did not need further treatment.”
The man, whose name has been withheld, could not be woken by his family. After numerous efforts at waking him the family, believing he was dead, called the local undertakers. He later woke from his deep sleep in the cold morgue at 5.00 p.m. local time (11.00 a.m. EST) and demanded to be let out, according to the BBC.
“At first the men ran for their lives,” Kupelo reported of the attendants working at the morgue during the incident.
The morgue owner, Ayanda Maqolo, said that the driver who picked the man up, “checked his pulse, looked for a heartbeat, but there was nothing,” according to the Associated Press.
Maqolo said he and his staff were terrified, “I was glad they (police) had their firearms, in case something wanted to fight with us.”
Maqolo is still trying to recover from the ordeal. He said according to AP, “I couldn’t sleep last night, I had nightmares.”
Area officials have stressed to the public the importance of calling doctors or other emergency services before pronouncing someone to be dead. Undertakers should not be called unless these measures have been taken, urges Kupelo. He said, “You begin to ask yourself how many other people have died like that in the morgue.”