Imbali family traumatised by corpse mix up

2018-01-31 06:01
PHOTO: SuppliedTebogo Mzamane’s corpse was given to the wrong family by a government mortuary.

PHOTO: SuppliedTebogo Mzamane’s corpse was given to the wrong family by a government mortuary.

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AN Imbali Stage 2 family say they are emotionally traumatised by the mix up of the corpse of one of their family members, who was eventually buried by another family in Colenso.

Phumzile Sithole, the mother of the dead Tebogo Mzamane (19), whose corpse was allegedly given to the wrong family at the Fort Napier Morgue last Friday, January 19, said she is hurt by the mix up.

“I don’t even know how to explain how I feel about all this,” Sithole told Echo on Monday, January 22 at the family home in Imbali.

Tebogo’s father, Sibusiso Mzamane said on Tuesday a meeting was held between the Department of Health, the Mzamane family and the family that received Tebogo’s corpse and who buried it on Sunday, January 21.

He said at the meeting the Mzamane family was told that Tebogo would be exhumed the same day, however, after the meeting the family were apparently told by the family who buried Tebogo’s corpse that the exhumation would only take place on Wednesday, January 24, as they had to first consult the local chief at their place of residence.

“If that is the case I doubt we will have enough time to prepare and be ready to bury my son on Thursday, a day I have already informed most of the family members will be his funeral,” Sibusiso said at the morgue on Tuesday, January 23.

Tebogo was found dead by the Alexandra SAPS on January 17 near a sports field in Slangspruit at 7pm.

Police station spokesperson, Captain Kholeka Mhlongo confirmed the find and said a murder case has been opened, but no arrest had yet been made.

Sithole said her son’s body was identified by four family members last Friday at the Fort Napier Morgue after they had looked for Tebogo at the Edendale Hospital and Plessislaer SAPS the previous day.

She said at the Plessislaer SAPS a police officer told the family to check with the Alexandra SAPS.

At the Alexandra Police Station, Tebogo’s father provided a description of his son and the clothes he was wearing on the day he was last seen by family members.

However, Sibusiso said once he had given the descriptions, the police told him the physical description matched that of a dead person found in Slangspruit on Wednesday, January 17, who, however, was wearing different clothes to those described by Sibusiso.

“I told the police it was possible that Tebogo could have changed clothes because he was hiding from people who were looking for him.

“The police then told us to come back the next day and a police officer would escort us to the morgue so we can identify the body,” Sibusiso said.

He said when the family identified Tebogo’s body the next day, they saw he had a stab wound at the back of his head and was wearing different clothes to those the family last saw him in.

“Once we had identified the body we signed the necessary documents and officials said we should pass on the information, tag numbers and related codes, to the funeral service we had hired,” the father said.

He said on Monday, January 22, the funeral service discovered when it went to collect Tebogo’s corpse from the morgue that the wrong body was left for the Mzamane family as the information in the possession of the funeral services and of the corpse did not correspond.

“The funeral services employee, who was to collect Tebogo, is a neighbour who knows Tebogo and he could see it was not him. I then received a call from the funeral services and they told me about the mix-up,” Sibusiso said.

The father said later that day he went to the Fort Napier Morgue and an official there confirmed that the mix-up of the bodies occurred on Friday, January 19 and that the family who had taken Tebogo’s corpse incorrectly had already buried him on Sunday.

“But the official would not say who had been negligent resulting in the mix-up,” Sibusiso said.

Sithole said on Wednesday, January 17, two men came to the family home with another male known to the family as Tebogo’s friend whose hands and feet were tied with a rope.

“They came in a car, they were manhandling the other boy they were with who they accused along with Tebogo of stealing cellphones from girl pupils at a local high school,” she said.

Sithole said before the two men left after learning that Tebogo was not at home, they threatened to kill Tebogo once they found him.

“I thought they would beat him like one would beat a child that has done wrong, and then take him to the police,” she said.

Tebogo’s grandmother, Maureen Sithole said the family was hurt by the threat because 30 minutes after it had been made Tebogo was found dead.

She said the two men came to the family home on Sunday and said they were not behind Tebogo’s death.

Phumzile said later on Wednesday the family was notified by one of Tebogo’s friends that he had been beaten to death but the family brushed that aside, assuming he was hiding at a friend’s place.

However, the next afternoon a family member heard from three people about Tebogo’s murder, which is when they started looking for Tebogo at the hospital and police stations.

Tebogo’s father described him as a child who would get up to no good like most young people would.

The KZN Department of Health spokesperson Agiza Hlongwane had not responded by the time of going to press.

However, Tebogo’s father contacted on the Echo on Tuesday afternoon and said officials from the morgue had contacted him to inform him that decisions taken at the meeting between the two families and officials from the morgue would be put on hold as the health MEC has intervened.

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