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Pensioner Gray Kholobeni of Kwadontsumlenze in Umzimkhulu, Eastern Cape, shed tears of joy and sadness yesterday as he buried his only son Thulani, 43.
He also regretted that he could not bury him sooner.
His son's body had lain in the mortuary for about eight months because the destitute family had no means to bury him or to pay for the funeral parlour charges.
Thulani died in Matatiele, Eastern Cape, at the beginning of March while looking for work.
Kholobeni senior could not afford to transport the body from Matatiele to the mortuary in his village of Kwadontsumlenze.
"I gave up hope. I thought he would never be buried. There was no member of the family who could help. I wanted to bring him home to be laid to rest among his relatives," he said.
But yesterday, and thanks to the intervention of the Greater Kokstad municipality, a local mortuary and Doves funeral parlour, Thulani was laid to rest.
Locals who turned up for the funeral said they were as relieved as Kholobeni to see his son given a decent burial.
The funeral took place despite heavy rain and the severe state of disrepair of Kholobeni's two-roomed home.
"I have been having sleepless nights for so many months knowing that I am at home while my son lay dead in a mortuary. I hope he will one day forgive me," Kholobeni said.
He said he had no means of burying his son and was grateful for the help he received to bury him.
"I live with my four grandchildren. They all depend on my pension to survive, for their schooling and other needs. My wife died a long time ago," he cried.
Local councillor Willem Bhengu said they had to help. "We couldn't allow him to be given a pauper's burial."