Two-week delay in receiving son’s body adds to family’s grief
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Pretoria - The pain of losing a child to sudden death is unbearable, but that coupled with a two-week delay in receiving the body for burial is a nightmare no parent should have to endure.
These were the painful words of an emotional Santos Shabangu, who is still waiting for pathologists at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital to perform a post-mortem examination on the body of his son 11 days after his death on July 1.
Shabangu said his son Irene, 11, died in a mysterious way after he began complaining that his right leg was shaking, and then his right hand began doing the same thing. This was followed by the loss of speech and a lack of head control.
The family live on the Saulsville mountain called Road Reserve Informal Settlement. At the weekend they said they were puzzled because besides being unable to bury their son they could not explain what had happened to him.
On the night before he died his younger sister was screaming and crying that somebody was choking her, as the boy lost speech and head control.
However, Shabangu said their biggest frustration was the fact that police from Atteridgeville had failed to ensure his son's body was accompanied by a police docket to enable forensic officials to perform the post-mortem examination. He said that documentation was only provided on Fridays, which meant they had to wait until today for the examination to be done so that the body could be released and cleared for burial.
With tears running down his face and his voice cracking, Shabangu said: “This whole experience has just been a nightmare. It was like nothing could go well. The police did not provide the dockets and as a result the body was collected late from Kalafong Hospital where my son died.
“As if that was not enough, when we thought it was time to collect him from the Steve Biko Academic Hospital mortuary to be in our undertaker’s position, we were given the body of an old man who was also a Shabangu. That was when we found out that my son’s body had not been touched because of this missing police document,” Shabangu said.
“We are still waiting, and this has been painful because people travelled from far for the funeral, thinking it would be quick due to the pandemic. They eventually went back to their homes and jobs. The pain of telling this story of what happened to my son and the frustration to get his body breaks me every day.”
The unbearable wait has also become an extra cost for the family because guests have to be fed every day as they come to check on them and ask about progress.
Shabangu said they were promised that the post-mortem examination would be done today and they hoped all had gone according to plan so they could lay him to rest tomorrow and start healing.
The Atteridgeville police station station commissioner who is acting as commissioner at district level, Mbangwa Nkhwashu, said the police would investigate what had happened and give feedback on the matter.