Family torn over exhumed remains, compensation.edited
Family torn over exhumed remains, compensation.edited

Family wants N$800 000 over exhumed remains

Elizabeth Kheibes
After two years of back-and-forth, members of the Auchab family claim they have been left high and dry by mining company Osino Resources, which reportedly promised them N$800 000 and to rebury the remains of several of their loved ones.

This follows the exhumation of the remains of Johannes and Godfriendine Auchab and other family members to make way for gold exploration at Okwayo Farm, 10 kilometres outside Karibib.

Speaking to Namibian Sun, Johannes and Godfriendine’s grandson Helmut Auchab said Osino made empty promises and has caused pain and confusion among the family.

"In the beginning, the family was torn between the direct descendants and the great-grandchildren on the decision that needed to be taken after our family's remains were dug up by Osino. The great-grandchildren have no authority and say over what needs to be done or what is expected in such an instance. How can you come into someone's household and start talking to the children without the parents?" he wanted to know.

Dignified reburial

According to documents seen by this publication, Osino - during a meeting with various members of the family - agreed to "ensure that the agreed process will be handled in a transparent and open way" and that the "overarching objective should be to provide a dignified and respectable reburial of the deceased”.

Further, Osino proposed to “appoint Nambob [Funeral Services] to manage the re-interment process. The representatives undertake to make themselves available, on request and as and when reasonably required thereafter, to meet and interact”, it added.

“It is Osino's responsibility to ensure that consent by the direct relations and/or their representatives is achieved. It is our understanding, based on professional advice received, that if consent cannot be achieved, a resolution will ultimately have to be achieved via the Office of the President.

“Osino will bear all costs directly related to the reburial process and any reasonable religious or spiritual requirements. Osino also understands that it is common practice to make available limited 'wake fees' to direct descendants, usually per individual grave,” the documents read.

Auchab claims that Osino committed to paying N$800 000 in compensation, but added that the mining company has since backtracked, blaming "divided family dynamics" for the decision.

"If they are saying they spoke and agreed with other family members and have started with the reburial process, who did they speak to? My mother, Thusnelda Owoses, is the daughter of the people who were exhumed. And no one made any arrangements with us," he said.

Family disputes

When approached for comment, Osino spokesperson Laschandre Coetzee said: "We unfortunately do not feel comfortable with sharing official lawyer letters with the media. Osino has accepted all requests made by the family through their lawyers regarding the reburial and has agreed to carry out all reasonable expenses associated with that. And as we shared in the press release, there will be no compensation".

In the statement, Osino CEO Heye Daun said the company “has been in contact with the direct descendants of the deceased for the past year to gather their input and guidance on the reburial process. However, [Osino] has not received consolidated input from the family thus far”.

He added that “despite efforts to secure unanimous consent from the different family groupings, disagreements persist. No consolidated agreement has been reached and the company continues to receive various exorbitant financial demands”.

“One part of the family has provided a letter outlining their religious and cultural requirements, which the company will take into account for the planned reburial,” Daun said, adding that the reburial will take place at the municipal cemetery of either Karibib or Usab, depending on the family's wishes.

The remains are currently being held at Nambob in Swakopmund.

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Namibian Sun 2024-04-25

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Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 326.08/OZ UP +0.42% | Copper US$ 4.51/lb UP +1.59% | Zinc US$ 2 860.10/T UP 1.92% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 88.03/BBP UP +0.04% | Platinum US$ 903.48/OZ UP +0.15%