Burial bungle infuriates family

2013-07-02 12:20

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Pietermaritzburg - A 51-year-old man from Dargle in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands was buried as a pauper by Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg after the institution was allegedly unable to locate his relatives.

But Mbekeni Skhakhane’s children are now furious that their father was buried without their knowledge.

Skhakhane’s eldest daughter Bawinile, 27, told The Witness the family is now trying to have her father’s body exhumed so he can be buried next to her mother.

She has two other siblings - Portia, 16, and Luyanda, 9.


She said her father - who was the family’s main breadwinner - went to the hospital on 29 January 2013.

According to the hospital, he died the same day.

“We went to the hospital the following day and we were told that our father was never admitted. Out of worry, we then searched for him at mortuaries around Pietermaritzburg, at Fort Napier and Edendale hospital,” she said.

“We made a missing persons report at Taylor’s Halt and left them with our father’s photo,” said Bawinile.

The siblings received a shock on 15 April when they were told that Northdale Hospital was looking for the family of a deceased man with the same name and surname as their father.

When they arrived at the hospital, they were told he had already been buried.

“They said we would have to exhume the body. This is impossible because, first, it was not our fault, and we do not have the amount of money needed.”

Approached for comment, Northdale Hospital representative Mandisa Dlamini did not deny the incident.

She said the hospital had noted a service gap and had developed the quality improvement plan to prevent it from happening again.

No contact number

“Skhakhane came to the hospital in a stable condition and was seen in Medical Out Patients,” Dlamini said.

“His condition worsened and he was rushed to casualty. His name was, therefore, not registered in our casualty book.”

After he died, the hospital’s attempts to contact the family were unsuccessful because there was no contact number in his folder, she said.

“The local [radio] stations were used to search for the family. With no response from all of our attempts, he was afforded a dignified pauper’s burial.”

She said the hospital is ready for the exhumation, but the department has yet to give the go-ahead.

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