A Limpopo family was forced to delay the burial of their relative by several hours at the last moment at the weekend after a dispute with the local chief and mayor over the burial land.
The family was finally spared the indignity of a postponed burial after a high court judge intervened and allowed the family to bury the deceased pensioner on Saturday. The family apparently owns the cemetery, but it was declared a community cemetery - allegedly against their will.
Armed police stopped the family from burying Magada Samson Nekhwevha, 76, from Tshisahulu village outside Thohoyandou, who died last week after a short illness.
That came after the mayor of Thulamela municipality and headman of Tshisahulu, Khosi Thivhulawi Makumbane, and his royal councils had applied for a court interdict against Nekhwevha's family to stop them from burying the pensioner because the graveyard had been declared a community cemetery.
But Nekhwevha's family representatives and attorneys rushed to the Thohoyandou high court to challenge the court interdict to bury the deceased.
Khosi Thivhulawi Makumbane, his royal councils and their legal representatives were not present when Nekhwevha's family demanded the right to bury their family member.
Judge Godfrey Hetisani told the court nothing could stop the Nekhwevha's from burying their deceased because this was a public cemetery.
Judge Hetisani ordered the applicants, headman Thivhulawi Makumbane and his royal councils to pay all the legal costs to the Nekhwevha's family.
"I'm giving you permission to go and bury your family member today on June 16, or any day you like," he said.
Family spokesman Azwifarwi Maphwanya told Sowetan the dispute over the graveyard had started in August last year when headman Makumbane had convinced the community to take over Nekhwevha's family cemetery for the use of the community.
The headman later led the community to clean up the cemetery but they were not allowed to use the graveyard because of the dispute.
"We are happy because the court took decision and we were finally able to bury our relative," said Maphwanya.
The burial was supposed to start at 6am, but the deceased was only buried at 3.45pm because of the dispute and urgent court interdict.