Odwa Nkonzo, whose body was found in Gugulethu in October. Picture: Supplied
Odwa Nkonzo, whose body was found in Gugulethu in October. Picture: Supplied

Month-long battle to claim brother’s burnt body from Salt River mortuary

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Nov 26, 2020

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Cape Town - A woman from Phillipi East has been battling for the past month to get her brother’s burnt body from the Salt River Mortuary.

Nozuko Nkonzo said the mortuary refused to release Odwa Nkonzo’s body, saying the family should bring someone who matched his DNA 96% while she matched it 94%.

Nozuko said she grew up with Odwa and they had the same mother, who has passed on. She’s been locked in a dispute with the mortuary, which meant family and friends were unable to bury Odwa.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said a death inquest would be held after a burnt body was found at Polar Park, Gugulethu on October 28.

She said no one has been arrested and the investigation was ongoing.

A heartbroken Nozuko said despite producing all the required documentation and identifying her brother’s body, she was refused access to his remains as her DNA test was rejected.

She said her brother was missing for weeks before his body was found, allegedly with his upper body burnt.

“All we want is to bury my brother in peace,” she said.

Emergency Medical and Forensic Pathology Services spokesperson Deanna Bessick said there was no problem with releasing his body.

“The appointed investigating officer should contact John Retief, who is the chief forensic pathology officer and is in charge of all operations in the dissection area as well as identification of deceased, to make an appointment to do the positive identification,” she said.

Bessick said the identification of the deceased was a legal process in the investigation of the case and positive identification was a requirement before they could hand over the body. She said the identification needed to be arranged by police.

“We have multiple cases of a similar nature, given that approximately 40% of South Africans do not have proof of identification. In cases like this, the release is dependent on available proof of identification and the detective handles this," she said.

Cape Argus

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