Funeral workers charged with mutilating corpses

2008-07-09 00:00

Two employees of a funeral parlour in Pietermaritzburg will appear in the magistrate’s court again today to plead to charges of mutilating three bodies, two of which were female.

The two men, aged 25 and 28, cannot be named before they plead. They were arrested on Monday after their employer, Ntokozo Shange, alerted police about their suspicious behaviour. He had found one of the bodies with parts missing while in the freezer at Ndlelanhle Funeral Service.

The parlour, which holds bodies for other burial companies, is at the corner of Machibisa and Selby Msimang roads in Edendale.

The suspects appeared in court yesterday, but the case was postponed due to the Cosatu strike.

“After we discovered the body on Monday we informed family members about our discovery and told them that they should not collect the body until police were informed,” said Shange.

Shange said he had heard that the other two bodies had missing parts only after the relatives had collected them.

“This had badly damaged the reputation of my company. I do not see any remedy to this,” said Shange.

The men have been charged with Violation of a Corpse and Contravention of the Human Tissue act.

Police spokesman Superintendent Henry Budhram said the people whose bodies were mutilated had died of natural causes. The bodies were being kept in the parlour until the funerals.

A few days later, he said, the relatives arrived at Ndlelanhle Funeral Service to identify the bodies and arrange the funeral when they discovered that some parts from the bodies were missing. “Both the females’ right eyes and sexual organs had been removed and the male’s right eye had also been removed,” said Budhram.

The Witness understands that Shange had employed one of the suspects to clean up the bodies and take their fingerprints. Another one was a security guard at night and a driver responsible for collecting bodies.

The Witness also understands that on Tuesday, police conducted a search for the body parts in the Machibisa area. When contacted about the search, Budhram said he could not divulge any details as that might jeopardise the investigation.

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