Eusebius McKaiser's friends and family have accused funeral service provider, Avbob, of using the commentator's memorial and funeral services as an advertising opportunity. They have also raised concerns about two Avbob area managers who interfered with the setup. This is despite being briefed about the family wanting less Avbob branding visible at the services.
The group further claimed that the mortician asked for lip gloss from a family member as McKaiser's lips looked "cracked and dry".
In a letter addressed to Avbob CEO, Charl van der Riet, McKaiser's friends and relatives demanded reparations from the company.
In the letter, the group claimed that Avbob staff attempted to erect banners at the Empire Place premises on the morning of McKaiser's memorial service and market its service to mourners.
"Avbob staff attempted to insert and charge the family for branded tissues and water bottles," the group said adding that this was done in an attempt to market their brand at the highly public service at the cost of his widower, Nduduzo Nyanda, barring a small discount of 15% on some items, which were not itemised and which had little material impact on the overall bill.
At the funeral, McKaiser's friends and family said the lining of McKaiser's casket was embroidered with Avbob logos and that again Avbob supplied branded items for the event.
"Pallbearers could not place the casket properly on the scaffolding, as the scaffolding was not made to the correct size by Avbob, and that this created a chaotic and undignified struggle right at the beginning of proceedings. This was eventually remedied by mourners, who took matters into their own hands, as Avbob staff was stumped not knowing what to do. When the casket was finally placed on the scaffolding, the support structure failed, and that instead of being buried with dignity the casket with our friend and relative inside it crashed to the bottom of the grave, bringing parts of the scaffolding, graveside carpeting, and flowers tumbling in after it, to the immense distress of the congregation," the letter stated.
As friends & family of Eusebius McKaiser we have now sent a formal letter of complaint to AVBOB for their atrocious handling of his memorial in Joburg and funeral in Makhanda. The letter is public and available here: https://t.co/7fZNv2K1ZK— Scott Burnett (@bur_scott on thrdz) (@bur_scott) July 11, 2023
The group said that throughout the proceedings the staff of Avbob Makhanda were slow to act. They seemed confused by the various failings, and did not seem to have any other purpose for being on-site than to see that the Avbob branding materials were prominently displayed and that McKaiser's headstone was engraved with the Avbob logo, without any consultation from his family or friends and no discount or quid pro quo was offered by the company to his widower for this "brazen and shameless piece of marketing".
The group stated that a meeting with the regional manager to have the engraving removed was never honoured.
"An investigation and report as to what happened was also requested from the regional manager and this is yet to be provided to Mr Nyanda. No direct communication has happened with him, despite this not being the case when payment was demanded on Friday 9 June 2023," the family said.
The group said despite claims that branding is often used by funeral service providers, many other providers said they would never brand caskets or tombstones; one added that this would be “insensitive towards a grieving family”.
The group said another service provider said that when they provide branded tissues or water bottles that these are provided free of charge, and only with the family’s permission, as it is after all the undertakers’ company that benefits from these additions to proceedings.
Speaking to TimesLive, Avbob Corporate Affairs General Manager, Adriaan Bester, said they had received the letter and were investigating the allegations levelled against the company.
Bester said they are establishing the facts and have a meeting set up with Nyanda on July 21.