Family’s pain in morgue dispute over body

2008-01-14 00:00

AN Edendale family has been left in the dark after the medical laboratory that renders state mortuary services refused to hand over their family member’s body after it was also claimed by another family.

The Mdluli family said their family member, Derrick Thembinkosi Mdluli (54), was last seen on December 26. They started to look for him on December 30 after realising that he was not coming back.

The family found and identified Mdluli’s body at the Medico-legal Lab morgue at the Alexandra Road police station on January 3.

However, when the family returned on January 7 to move the body to their own mortuary, they discovered that another Willowfountain family had also laid claim to the body.

Later, after another member of the Willowfountain family realised they were claiming the wrong body, they withdrew their claim and wrote an affidavit saying the body was not theirs.

But the Mdlulis’ woes escalated when the laboratory management said they would not release the body until DNA tests were done.

“We were very distraught by this because we have positively identified the body and were ready with funeral arrangements, which have now been stalled.

“Moreover, the Willowfountain family explained to the police that their family member went missing in June, while it was clear that ours went missing on December 26 and his body was found two days later,” said Sibongile Mdluli, the deceased’s sister.

Another family member, Mbali Mdluli, said the laboratory management has treated them with disdain in spite of their situation.

“They have fought with us and the investigating officer who is supposed to inform us when we can have the body has not done so. We’ve had to turn people and relatives, who were coming to the funeral, away. We’re so confused because they are not telling us what is happening.”

Medico-legal Lab deputy head Jabulani Mazibuko confirmed the incident and said the state is not releasing the body because forensic verification has to be done first.

“Despite being the normal procedure to release a body without proper forensics, the body in question has already been contested and claimed by two families.

“We therefore cannot take any chances,” said Mazibuko. He could not say when the results of the DNA tests can be expected.

nathi@witness.co.za

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