No money to remove dead baby

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A mother was forced to keep her dead seven-month-old baby in her shack for two days because she could not afford to hire a car to take the body to a mortuary.

Zinhle Mthwalo died last Monday after a short illness.

Her mother, Noluthando Mthwalo, 30, of Umlazi, south of Durban, said life is "hell". She has not been able to find a job and sells fruit and juices at a nearby railway station. With the little money she makes she bought food for her three children.

Mthwalo said: "She just became sick and began crying. It was Saturday and I could only take her to the local clinic on Monday but she died that very same morning."

Mthwalo said she called the police to help her move the body to a government mortuary, but instead they threatened to charge her.

"I begged them to assist me in taking the child to a mortuary, but they told me that they only remove corpses that have been found abandoned or are unknown," she said.

"The next day the police returned, threatening to charge me for keeping a dead body in my room."

Local police said they did not remove the body as the child had died from an illness and so was the Health Department's responsibility.

A funeral company finally took the body but told Mthwalo she would have to pay R200 for an autopsy and R1300 for funeral costs.

"I am unemployed. I have no ID and my children do not have birth certificates, so we can't access child support grants. I do not have that kind of money," Mthwalo said.

Yesterday local councillor Nomvuzo Tshabalala stepped in to help the family.

"The municipality has a contract with the Isipingo funeral parlour.

"Arrangements have been made to remove the child from the private mortuary and the pauper's burial could be either today or tomorrow," Tshabalala said.

She said she would help Mthwalo to apply for her ID so she could access state grants for her children.