Durban - A grieving Northdale family plans to sue the Msunduzi Municipality after staff at the Mountain Rise Crematorium allegedly gave them the wrong ashes, and then tried to cover up their mistake.
Perumal Rajen Naidoo, 53, died on May 25 following a short illness.
His bereaved wife, Rumba Pillay, and son, Sherwin Naidoo, held his funeral and cremation on May 28.
The mix-up was discovered the next day, after the ashes were buried.
“Receiving my father’s ashes was a very emotional moment for me because it was my time to say goodbye to him.
"I proceeded to the graveyard to bury my father’s ashes and have our pastor pray over him in order for his soul to find rest,” said Naidoo.
Naidoo said the next day his mother received a call from the crematorium informing her that they were given the wrong ashes.
“My mother was in shock. She told the staff member we had already buried the remains.
"The staff member then ended the call and phoned back minutes later to say we were not given the wrong ashes but the wrong receipt and we needed to return it.”
Angry, Naidoo said he did not have a receipt but remembered a piece of paper was inside the box he had buried.
“We went back to graveyard, dug out the box to check the receipt and found another man’s name on it. We started to feel sick to our stomachs realising that it was, in fact, the wrong ashes.”
Naidoo said he handed the box back to the staff and they were adamant the mix up was only with the names and not the actual remains.
“I refused to take the ashes back as I was not sure if it was my father’s or not.
"Later that afternoon we were informed by the cemetery that they had the ashes with my father’s name on it and we must fetch it, but again I refused.”
Naidoo said he was not prepared to take the box until the municipality provide proof of whose ashes were in it.
“This whole experience has been very traumatic.”
Naidoo said this has left his mother sick.
“Her health is deteriorating. We have sought help from an attorney and intend on taking legal action against the municipality.”
Acting Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said an investigation into the matter was under way.