Anguish at bodies mix-up

2012-03-09 00:00

GRIEVING families have laid the blame for a mix-up that resulted in the burial of the wrong person squarely at the door of Edendale Hospital.

Families from Hopewell near Richmond accused the hospital of negligence after the bodies of Emely Mofokeng and Princess Mbeje were mixed up last month.

Mofokeng and Mbeje died in the hospital on February 8.

The Mbejes buried the person they believed to be their mother on February 18.

The Mofokeng family were to have buried Emely on February 25, but they noticed on the day of the funeral that they were about to bury the wrong body.

Yesterday Edendale Hospital staff had to exhume Mofokeng’s body and ensure that her family were handed her remains.

Mofokeng’s daughter, Nonhlanhla Radebe, told The Witness she was disturbed by the way nurses had dealt with her family when they went to collect their mother’s body last month.

“I was told by a mortuary attendant that the body was my mother’s, but they did not allow me to see her.

“When we got home we discovered that it was not my mother and we sent the body to Richmond and that’s when they phoned the hospital.

“Now this thing is causing more pain to us as we have to prepare for the funeral again,” said Radebe.

Mbeje’s son, Senzo Mbeje, said his family were under the impression that the body they had buried was that of their mother.

“[The department] will have to cleanse our home after this.

“We buried the wrong body because the papers were showing us that the body was that of our mother, while it was not,” said Senzo.

Neighbours and members of both families gathered at the Mbeje homestead as hospital systems manager, Simon Kubheka, and environmental officers helped exhume the body.

KwaZulu-Natal Health Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said the hospital had met both families to explain the mix-up and to apologise.

The Mbeje family will bury the correct body tomorrow.

The hospital will foot the bill.

Maxon said disciplinary measures would be taken against nurses who had been implicated in the mix-up.

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