A family in Emakhandeni, Bulawayo has been struck by a double tragedy after losing a mother who was later mistakenly buried by another family following a mix-up involving the dead body of a suspected Covid-19 patient.
The mix-up was done at Exodus Funeral Parlour in the city.
A 74-year-old Ntombiyolwandle Magagula, nee Phiri, died on Sunday night after a long illness and burial was expected at Luveve Cemetery.
The other body involved in the mix-up was that of Annah Ndlovu (77) who is said to have succumbed to Covid-19.
The matter came to light when the Magagula family went to claim their body for burial only to discover it had been collected by the Ndlovus and buried at Athlone Cemetery on Tuesday.
Magagula’s body was exhumed on Wednesday.
Narrating the ordeal, a Magagula family representative Christopher Dube said the family has a funeral policy with Kingdom Blue Funeral Services but when they went to Luveve Police Station to notify the police of Magagula’s death, the police reportedly contacted Exodus to collect the body.
“We have a policy with Kingdom Blue, when Ntombiyolwandle (Magagula) died her children went to Luveve police station to report, the police said they did not have contacts for Kingdom Blue Funeral Parlour and they contacted Exodus to collect the body,” said Dube.
Janet Magagula said when they went to collect the deceased’s remains the following day at Exodus, they were charged US$280.
Magagula added that they could not lay the blame on Kingdom Blue as they were not involved in handling the bodies.
The exhumation process took place at Athlone cemetery after all other funeral services which were scheduled for the day at the graveyard were over.
The Magagula family had to observe an hours’ process of the excavator digging up the deceased.
After the exhumation process, the body was taken back to Kingdom Blue where the family positively identified Magagula.
Meanwhile, the Ndlovu family representative Sibongile Ndlovu said their relative had died of Covid-19 and due to regulations, could not conduct body viewing.
“We got to know that we had buried the wrong body after the funeral service at Athlone Cemetery,” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu said they will bury their relative tomorrow with the assistance of Kingdom Blue.
Kingdom Blue marketing manager, Andrea Shumba apologised for the body mix-up.
“On behalf of the company we are very sorry on what transpired, we were involved in this but not intentionally but because of the other party Exodus, who went to collect the bodies knowing that these people had policies with Kingdom Blue.
An Exodus funeral representative who refused to identify himself said the mix-up was due to negligence on their part.