Six-month wait by Atteridgeville family to bury siblings allegedly burnt to death by mother
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Pretoria - No parent or family should have to wait more than six months to bury their loved ones simply because the government delayed in concluding medical examinations.
These were the painful words of Virginia Motsaneng, 68, who has been waiting for the bodies of her two grandchildren – who were allegedly burnt to death by their own mother in February.
She said it was bad enough that her child allegedly killed her grandchildren, aged 5 and 8, but now the government mortuary at Steve Biko Academic Hospital has not released their bodies.
Motsaneng said her life had changed drastically since her daughter had been arrested.
The mother later confessed to the double murder. The children were found burnt beyond recognition in an incomplete house nearby.
As an elderly person with various illnesses, Motsaneng has found herself needing medical attention at Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville recently for a swollen heart due to stress caused by the ordeal.
Family spokesperson Vincent Mabuza said they had sourced updates from the Atteridgeville Police Station and Magistrate’s Court where the case was being handled by an investigating officer and a prosecutor.
Mabuza, who is also Motsaneng’s twin brother, said: “We were told by the court prosecutor that a DNA test was done to confirm that the bodies indeed belonged to our children, but apparently the case has been passed to international forensic officials to confirm the results. The mother confessed, the police investigated; how long does my sister have to wait to bury her grandchildren and find closure?
“This is not how we do things in our tradition. This is very painful to us as a family. We have to bury the children so that we start moving towards a path of healing,” he said.
Abel Tau of ActionSA, which provided legal help for the family, said: “This (the deaths) happened in February and now we are sitting in August; so you can imagine what that does to the elderly woman.
“She has lost her grandchildren and her daughter as well, who was (obviously) involved in this and was arrested, but now she does not have an opportunity to find closure.”
Tau had taken legal representatives to commence consultation and build a case to force the government to release the bodies so that they could be buried. Steve Biko Academic Hospital has yet to comment on the delays.
Meanwhile, another family, also from Atteridgeville, expressed similar frustrations after waiting for the body of their teenage boy for weeks at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital mortuary. They learned that a document needed to be taken to the mortuary with the body by police had not been available, which caused the delays.