Mix-up in Islamic burial for pensioner

2013-01-26 00:00

THE family of the pensioner who was killed in Pietermaritzburg when a wall fell on him on Monday suffered a double blow when they could not bury him on the same day, according to Islamic rites.

The delayed burial was caused by the mortuary’s refusal to conduct a postmortem on the same day, as it usually does to accommodate Muslim families.

The traumatised family, who feel that they let their father, Mohammed Sayad Moonsamy, down, want their relatives to know that they did everything in their power to do what was right.

They believe they were let down by the system because their father had a non-Muslim surname.

While the mortuary has been blamed for delaying the burial, Pietermaritzburg’s Muslim Burial Society has also come under fire for apparently not doing enough to help the family.

Moonsamy had converted to Islam many years ago and had taken Muslim names, but had not legally changed his surname.

Dr Mandla Mazizi, general manager for KZN Forensic Medical Services, said the circumstances that caused the delay in conducting the postmortem on the same day included:

• Moonsamy’s surname on his ID not being a Muslim one;

• His surname being different to that of his brother; and

• Moonsamy having another, Muslim, surname which was not the same as the one on his ID.

“It is important to note that we always take particular care to correctly identify bodies to avert mistaken identities and fraud involving insurance scams,” Mazizi said.

He added that he had since contacted Moonsamy’s family and fervently apologised for the misunderstanding and inconvenience caused.

Meanwhile, community leaders who were called by the family to assist in addressing the matter were adamant that the burial society could have done more to help.

An undertaker said there had been cases in the past where people had converted to Islam, but had not officially changed their surnames.

All that happened was that the burial society called the mortuary and explained the circumstances.

The society has a long-standing working relationship with the mortuary and its word is accepted. Arrangements are then made to release bodies for burial on the same day, including expediting postmortems where these are required.

A spokesperson for the society said he could not talk to Weekend Witness when contacted yesterday, as he was busy. “Call me in a week’s time,” he said, before putting the phone down.

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