Funeral parlour ‘mistakenly’ cremates wrong body

2015-07-14 06:42
Cecilia Brock (86) whose body was ‘mixed up’ and sent to Port Shepstone for cremation before her funeral without the family’s knowledge.

Cecilia Brock (86) whose body was ‘mixed up’ and sent to Port Shepstone for cremation before her funeral without the family’s knowledge. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - Police have been called in to investigate a national funeral parlour after they “mistakenly” cremated the wrong body, leaving a Pietermaritzburg family in despair.

According to Siva Chetty, acting as attorney for the Van Niekerk family, police will investigate Avbob funeral services after the body of Cecilia Luck Brock was “mistakenly” taken to Port Shepstone and cremated without the family’s knowledge.

Brock, 86, died on July 5, but her family were unable to say their final farewells after she was prematurely cremated.

Brock’s body was accidentally swopped with that of a Mr Wright, whose family was in London and had requested that the body be cremated and his ashes transported overseas.

According to a statement to Chetty made by Brock’s son-in-law, well-known Pietermaritzburg pastor Peter van Niekerk, after Brock’s death on July 5, the family viewed her body and engaged Avbob to attend to the funeral arrangements.

The funeral had been arranged for July 10 and it was discussed that close family members were to privately view the body on July 8.

On July 9, a day before the funeral, Van Niekerk was told by an Avbob representative that “there was bad news”.

“I asked him what had happened and he informed me that the body had been sent to Port Shepstone. Not knowing what had transpired I asked him to have the body returned to Pietermaritzburg and he responded by saying that it was not so simple,” Van Niekerk said in his statement.

Brock’s body had been cremated in Port Shepstone on the day after the alleged “mix up” with Wright’s remains.

“We were devastated at learning what had transpired and hurriedly informed family members of the unspeakable tragedy that had befallen us,” Van Niekerk’s statement read.

On July 10, a memorial service was instead held for Brock.

Chetty said that the family are taking civil action against the funeral service and have asked the police to probe the circumstances around the traumatic “mistake”.

Avbob group communications manager Marius du Plessis on Monday said they are sure that the ashes given to the family were Brock’s and this was certified by the crematorium.

“We have not concluded the investigation as yet but it appears as if our own employees at the Pietermaritzburg branch were responsible for the mistake,” Du Plessis said.

“The person who was responsible for dispatching the body to the crematorium made a terrible mistake.”

The distraught family declined to speak to The Witness.

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