Wrong body buried

Families traumatized
Otis Daniels_Finck
Swakopmund • [email protected]

Two grieving families suffered more trauma after their loved ones’ bodies were accidently switched, allegedly at the Swakopmund district hospital, and the wrong body ended up being buried this past week.

Magrietha Nanubes passed away on 4 January at Swakopmund. According to a close relative of the late Nanubes, the deceased was supposed to be buried at a farm in the Fransfontein district this coming Saturday.

Nanubes’ body was however wrongly buried in the Swakopmund cemetery last Friday, under the presumption that it was that of another woman .

According to the relative, arrangements were being made for Nanubes’s body to be brought to Fransfontein for the memorial service and burial. “My family went to the [Swakopmund] hospital to prepare her body for the funeral, but they could not find her anywhere. No one knew where she was.”

The relative explained that it came out later that another woman’s body, who was supposed to have been buried, was still at the mortuary, and that is when the realization struck that Nanubes was buried by mistake, in the other woman’s place.

Nanubes’ family approached the court for an order to exhume their loved one, which the court granted. Erongo police spokesperson Anna Frans confirmed that the police were involved in the process of the application and accompanied officials of the health ministry for the exhumation, which took place on Thursday.

“We were obviously sick with trauma when we heard that she (Nanubes) was gone. How is that possible? We are still in mourning and expected her body to come to Fransfontein for closure. She was in the mortuary, ready to come to us, and then we were told she was gone – and buried in someone else’s place. It was horrible,” the relative lamented. “We are just glad she is back now, and we will continue with the arrangements.”

The relative empathized with the other family, who also had to hear that the body buried was not that of their loved one. Blame was squarely put on the shoulders of the hospital, with fingers also pointing at Nambob, who were allegedly responsible for the other family’s funeral arrangements.

“These people were supposed to identify the body before removing it for burial. This was obviously negligence on their part,” the relative lashed out. “We and the other family are mourning, and then this insensitive irresponsible thing happens. They will have to explain how this happened.”

Erongo 24/7 did reach out to Nambob, who responded that they could not give comment until a proper inquiry has been completed.

Sources in the funeral business said that, while such incidents should not happen, the volumes and regulations related to Covid-19 nowadays caused a lot of pressure in mortuaries in general, and therefore it was possible that there would be mistakes.

Erongo 24/7 was not able to get any contact details or information of the other family, and was told that they did not want to be identified as this would just increase the trauma they are already going through.

When contacted for comment, Erongo health director Anna Jonas said: “I cannot discuss this with the media. It is a matter between the hospital and the family.”