Family feuds as brother's body lies in freezer for 6 months

2015-06-10 11:28
Richard Henry Owen (Netwerk24)

Richard Henry Owen (Netwerk24)

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Bloemfontein - A prolonged family feud over who should pay the undertakers after the death of a man from Vrede has now reached breaking point, Netwerk24 reported on Wednesday.

The question is over who should pay for 54-year-old Richard Henry Owen’s body, which is still lying in the freezer at the funeral home in Harrismith nearly six months after his death on Christmas Day.

“Enough is enough,” said his brother, Llewellyn, from Pretoria. “It looks as if the family won’t find peace. Avbob [a mutual insurance society] also wants to sue my sister.”  

The family can't understand why the eldest sister, Elza Whelan from Vereeniging, ordered a second autopsy in Harrismith.

Llewellyn said the account with Avbob in Harrismith was in excess of R10 000, and to bring the body back to Standerton will amount to a further R3 000.

“We were in Vrede three days after Christmas to say farewell to my brother. But we were shocked at the state he was in. The woman with whom he lived is to blame for not informing us in time."

Sparks began flying

Llewellyn said the family went to a detective, a magistrate and a prosecutor who agreed to an autopsy.

He, his wife Marinda, his brother Tony Whelan, and his sisters Elza and Anna-Marie van der Nest went together to Standerton where they again looked at the body and took photographs.

“Elza arranged the autopsy in Bloemfontein. But when the results came back that Owen died a natural death, she was not satisfied. At that stage, Elza and Anna-Marie were still involved in everything.

“From here, the sparks began flying. Elza apparently said the family was not the family. The fight got out of hand.

“I and my sister Charmaine Bezuidenhout are being left out. Elza took a doctor from Vanderbijlpark and drove to Harrismith for a second autopsy on April 30. From there the body was taken to Avbob in Harrismith.”

Meanwhile, Elza has said she is “fed up” with her family and that she is not a bank. “I had already paid R7 000 from my own pocket for the second autopsy. Now nobody wants to help pay anymore. I’m busy with my lawyer.”

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