Family and undertaker in body dispute

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JOHANNESBURG – A family and an undertaker in Orkney are at loggerheads after an undertaker made a mistake, and sent their body to the wrong family.

By the time the error was discovered, it was too late, as the other family had already buried the body. Now Thandiwe Mkwakwe’s family want her remains exhumed. Mkwakwe died over a month ago. She was to be buried on the 10th of September.

When her family went to collect her body at the mortuary, they got the shock of their lives.

“Her aunt was showed the body at the mortuary. She realised it was not her. The body they were giving us had scars and ours had no scars and at the undertaker they told us that there is a mix up,” said Mhlupheki Madikane a member of the family.

A month later, Thandiwe’s family is still waiting to bury her, despite the funeral parlour’s promises to sort things out.

“All we want is to have her remains so we can bury her, we don’t care about other things. We thought of suing the undertaker but then realised that won’t help us. We just want her remains,” Madikane said.

The mix-up has left Thandeka’s brother Isaac Mkwakwe and 12-year-old daughter traumatised.

“The past few weeks have been very difficult, I could not even go to work, she was my older sisster, we stayed here the three of us, including her daughter, iit’s hard going to sleep at night,” Isaac said.

The owner of the funeral parlour admits his staff made a mistake, and Thandiwe’s body was given to the wrong family. By the time he realised this and tried to correct it, the other family had already buried Thandiwe, believing she was their relative.

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He said the family did not view the body, as they believed they were burying an accident victim, who was severely disfigured.

“We are very sorry about this mistake. This has never happened to us before. We are doing everything possible to ensure we exhume the body to hand it over to the family, we are just waiting for approval from authorities to do so,” said Sidwell Mafoleni owner of Thuso Funeral Burial Society.

So, while the funeral home awaits permission to proceed with the exhumation, Thandiwe’s family wonders whether they will ever get a chance to bury her.

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