Avbob body mix up: Funeral home apologises to grieving family who buried a stranger

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Avbob undertakers.
Avbob undertakers.
Duncan Alfreds, News24
  • Funeral home Avbob said its staff failed to follow standard operating procedures and misidentified the deceased.
  • The parlour said it was in the process of obtaining necessary authorisation to exhume the person that was buried in error. 
  • The Sozombile family learnt this from Avbob on Saturday - three days after a funeral where they had buried the wrong body.

Leading funeral home Avbob has issued a public apology after one of their mortuary employees caused a mix up with bodies that resulted in a grieving family burying a total stranger.

The Sozombile family in Bizana learnt from the parlour on Saturday - three days after the funeral - that the body they thought was that of their loved one, Rosetta Sozombile, was in fact not hers.   

Avbob has accepted responsibility for the bungle.

Avbob corporate affairs general manager Adriaan Bester said the funeral home was in a process of obtaining the necessary authorisation to exhume the person that was buried erroneously, and thereafter the remains of Ms Sozombile will be laid to rest.

Bester said:

"With regards to the incorrect burial that took place we also have to confirm that our staff failed to follow standard operating procedures and misidentified the deceased as that of the late Rosetta Sozombile.

"We regret the incident and acknowledge the mistake made by our Bizana branch. It is correct that the family of the late Rosetta Sozombile made arrangements for us to remove the deceased from the hospital on 28 December 2020. The Bizana branch is a small branch with limited capacity and on the day they were attending to a number of instructions from different clients.

"Because of this and the fact that the branch is a long distance and several hours' drive away from the hospital and the mortuary where the deceased had to be kept until the funeral it took longer than expected for our staff to perform the service."

ALSO READ | Avbob apologises to PE family who got the wrong body before funeral, denies Covid-19 exposure

Bester added: "It is also true that the delivery of the deceased on the day of the funeral happened late. This was because the staff members who attended to the service on the day of the funeral experienced difficulties with the coffining process and had to obtain permission from the family to use a bigger coffin first before the service could be conducted.

"They delivered the deceased to the family and contrary to standard operating procedures and protocols they failed to wear the required personal protective equipment."

Bester admitted that the bungle was caused by his employees.

"Despite the above I would like to emphasise that we are not attempting to make excuses for the mistakes and procedural deviations which led to the sub-standard performance of our duties. At this time we would once again like to apologise to the family and loved ones for the inconvenience and disruptions caused. As we have already informed the family we will conduct all services and perform the burial at no cost to them," said Bester.    

Sozombile family spokesperson Manono Sozombile could not be reached for comment at the time of writing. His response will be added when received.

He had, however, told DispatchLive that he was not happy with the service from Avbob and that he felt undermined. 

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