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Gauteng funeral home manager guilty of lying about embalming man’s body

Mariana Erasmus has pleaded guilty to submitting a false document to a Gauteng family about who embalmed a man’s body prior to his burial. Picture: Pexels

Mariana Erasmus has pleaded guilty to submitting a false document to a Gauteng family about who embalmed a man’s body prior to his burial. Picture: Pexels

Published Oct 19, 2023

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A 58-year-old Gauteng funeral home manager has been found guilty of forgery and uttering after she lied to a mother about who embalmed her son before his burial. Now that justice has been served, a mother can mourn the loss of her son.

Mariana Erasmus was sentenced at the Cullinan Magistrate’s Court.

On the first charge, Erasmus, a manager at RBO Aurora Funeral Services, was sentenced to a fine of R18,000 or two years imprisonment, and for the second charge, she was handed a R18,000 fine or two years imprisonment - which will run concurrently and have been suspended for five years.

Jacques van Zyl died in February 2021 in a car crash near his parent's Rayton home, just outside Cullinan.

Speaking to Ridge Times, his mother Colonel Corrie van Zyl said her son's last request was to be embalmed.

The family requested for this to be undertaken by Erasmus's funeral home.

The family was then issued a document stating that Van Zyl had been embalmed.

According to the report, the family was given a A6-sized handwritten certificate with a contact number for an embalmer, Gerhardus Broodryk.

However, when Corrie spoke to Broodryk, she found that the document was false and his signature had been forged.

The court heard how Erasmus had a blank certificate from Broodryk in the event that a family requested one, which according to Erasmus had never happened in 20 years. She told the court that she filled the certificate in and signed her own signature.

She further stated that Van Zyl's body had been embalmed, but not by Broodryk, instead it was done by someone else. However, it was later revealed that the body was never embalmed, as the person Erasmus claimed did the embalming, in front of her husband, is not a registered embalmer.

According to her plea, which IOL has read, Erasmus pleaded guilty to both charges in which she acknowledged submitting a false document to the Van Zyl family.

In handing down sentence, JP Modise said the dishonesty did not only negatively impact the family, but also the funeral industry as a whole.

Corrie told Ridge Times that she prayed for two years for justice to be served and can now mourn her son’s life.

IOL