Widow distraught after body mix-up
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Cape Town - A traumatised Mitchells Plain widow will relive the funeral of her late husband for a second time on Monday after she was alerted by funeral service provider Avbob, three hours after his burial on Friday, that they buried the wrong body.
Patiswa Mhlauli has accused Avbob of denying the family time to see the body of her late husband Thamsanqa before his burial.
“During the funeral arrangements, I insisted that the family should see the body before burial and they said I shouldn’t worry, that will happen.
“On the day of the funeral when a family member went to the undertaker to request to see the body, they refused.
“They did not give us that opportunity to see the body before burial,” she said.
Mhlauli said after the funeral service she received a message from Avbob that she should urgently go to their offices in Maitland.
“It was 14.45pm when I received the message. They said I should urgently come to their office as there was an urgent matter that needed to be attended to and they cannot discuss it over the phone.
“I insisted they tell me what had happened and they told me ‘we had buried the wrong person’, just like that,” she said.
Mhlauli said they were further alerted that the stranger they had buried was to be buried only on Sunday.
Avbob accepted responsibility in response to the Cape Times on Sunday, saying it was human error that led to the delivery of the wrong body for the burial.
Its spokesperson Marius du Plessis said they will do whatever they can to resolve the matter and assist the family in getting closure.
“Our Maitland branch is one of our largest facilities and is handling more than 300 deceased per month. Despite the pressure that our personnel have been working under as a result of the increased number of deaths due to the pandemic these kinds of mistakes are rare and have never happened before at this facility.
“This was an unfortunate incident where human error led to the delivery of the wrong body for the burial.
“We understand the family’s disappointment and we regret the fact that our service didn’t meet their expectations. We would again like to apologise for the inconvenience caused,” he said.
A devastated Mhlauli said Avbob requested the family continue with the burial today (Monday).
“I insisted my husband be buried the same day as we had already prepared everything. I had arranged a double burial plot grave for my husband, so that I can be buried on top of him, when my time comes.
“They then said there were similar graves at the cemetery.
“They came back the same day after 6pm and that did not work as the graves were just shallow graves and they had to take the body back again to the mortuary.
“I’m still shocked and in grief, even when my husband was in hospital, I was crying day and night for his recovery and it did not happen.
“Now we have buried the wrong person, it just tears me apart, it’s like my husband was not honoured for the kind of man he was,” she said.
Mhlauli said they will be discussing what action they will be taking with the family after the burial on Monday.