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Corpse swap shocker
TWO separate grieving families from the North were a dealt a double blow when one was sent the wrong body by authorities at the Katutura State Hospital while the other was left with the traumatic experience of trying to find the body of their loved one.
Relatives of Frieda Tshekupe Iita (77), who died of cancer on June 17 at the Katutura State Hospital in Windhoek, where left traumatised when they were on Wednesday shown an empty drawer at the hospital morgue during the identification process.
On the same day, some 600 kilometers away, another family from Ongha in the Ohangwena Region was forced to halt the funeral proceedings of a 22-year-old woman when, during the viewing of the body, mourners realised a complete stranger’s body was lying in the coffin.
The late Iita’s daughter, Fredericka Nanyemba, had made all the necessary funeral arrangements with Old Mutual to have her mother’s body transported by funeral undertaker Avbob to Okahao before traveling to the North to join her mourning family.
On the day the body was to be transported to Okahao, the town closest to the Onashitendo village where the funeral was to take place on Saturday, blundering morgue officials were forced to admit they could not locate Iita’s body.
“I had delegated two relatives to identify the body before it is sent off with Avbob. When they found an empty drawer at the mortuary, my family had to view all the bodies at the mortuary in hopes of finding the correct one,” Nanyemba said.
When they were not successful, the distressed family went to view more bodies at the Windhoek Police morgue in under the belief that there had been a mix-up, but were again disappointed for not finding it there.
During the frantic scramble to locate the body, hospital authorities realised that they had send Iita’s body by bus to Ongha a day earlier.
“We eventually arranged for my mother’s body to be collected from Ongha and transported to Ondangwa to where I travelled to identify the body, but the whole process has left me emotionally scarred,” narrates Nanyemba .
“I have a terrible last image of my mother wearing a young woman’s dress that her corpse was forced into because the dress was a few sizes too small. She was also lying in a substandard coffin because the 22-year-old woman, who was supposed to be laid to rest in that coffin, was an orphan when she died.”
The grieving family of the other woman, identified only as Miriam, was left financially struggling after having to postpone the funeral and make alternative arrangements to transport the correct body from Windhoek.
“They asked me to cover the costs and I in turn called Old Mutual to see if they could use the money that was reserved for my mother, but they said their policy wouldn’t allow it.
Luckily, the other family had found someone that was also scheduled to transport another body and the person agreed to transport both bodies,” said Nanyemba.
Nanyemba is appealing to the Ministry of Health and Social Services to put up proper mechanisms when releasing bodies to avoid another embarrassment and spare other mourning families the same traumatic experience.
“Although we successfully managed to bury my mother on Saturday at Onashitendo Village as was scheduled, I’m convinced that had the other body also belonged to an elderly person, my mother would have been buried at Ongha,” an emotional distressed Nanyemba said.