Tragedy of errors in burial mix-up
The Department of Home Affairs has offered to help Maria Masilela get her daughter's life back - after Masilela buried another girl believing it was her own.
Three weeks ago Masilela, of Delmas in Mpumalanga, buried six-year-old Oratile Noge, of Brits in North West, instead of her own 19-year-old daughter, Nomtandazo Masanabo.
The two had been admitted to Kopanong Hospital, where Oratile died, last month under incorrect names. The mix-up started when the children, both mentally disabled, were transferred from Waverley Care Centre in Germiston to Ikhwezilokusa Home at De Deur.
Ikhwezilokusa Home caretaker Miranda Mokgethi said the two girls had arrived with their arm bands already swapped.
Masilela, who is also mentally disabled, now has a death certificate for a daughter who is still alive.
Her daughter's disability grant was cancelled by the Department of Social Welfare after they received documents "confirming" her death.
Masilela's situation has been worsened by the demand of the undertaker who conducted the burial of Oratile for payment of R3000 in funeral costs.
"I really want my daughter back on the burial society, but I don't have the money to repay them. I just don't know what I will do," Masilela said helplessly.
The head of the Turn Around Project at Home Affairs, Jacob Mamabolo, said they would help re-activate the identity of Masilela's daughter.
He said they needed proof that the girl was still alive and the matter would be resolved.
Department of Social Development spokesman Fred Mokoko said they would wait for Home Affairs to sort out the ID issue.
"Of course, we will need to look at the circumstances, but we will reinstate her grant after all the proof that she is alive is issued," he said.
Kopanong Hospital chief executive Thomas Nhlapo refused to say whether they would issue proof that Nomtandazo was still alive so that the two departments could give her her life back.
Mokgethi said the centre could not help the family repay the undertaker because it did not have funds but would try to help at a later stage.
"We can only help the Noge family to get the body of their child exhumed, but even that is going to take time because we have our own difficulties."