Woman jailed for corpse theft

2011-04-16 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG woman who lied to mortuary staff that two corpses in a mortuary were her relatives and that she was entitled to remove them was jailed for six years on Friday.

The woman, Gugulethu Buyishewe Methula (37), pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.

The court found that she gave the false name of Nonhlanhla Mfaba to mortuary attendant Maria Zondi and induced her to believe that the body of Kupulanga Mxala was that of her brother and that she was entitled to remove it.

She also said she was the sister of another person in the mortuary and was entitled to remove the body.

State prosecutor Sharleen Haggard said the frauds were uncovered by police investigators.

Haggard said a funeral was arranged and she surmised this was for an insurance fraud.

She said she expects investigations to uncover more wrongdoing.

She said Methula had been found in possession of copies of documents which were not her own.

Magistrate Amanda Bezuidenhout said that these were serious charges and she considered referring the case to the regional court for a heavier sentence.

She did not do so, however, because she could sentence Methula to three years in jail for each of the convictions and the six years seemed appropriate.

Bezuidenhout said a similar case in which the accused did not plead guilty is being heard in Durban.

She added that the cases had induced a sense of shock in the community.

If corpses disappeared from the mortuary the bereaved families would not have closure.

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