Standoff after family buries wrong baby

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

A bungle at a Limpopo hospital has resulted in the burial of the wrong corpse.

The incident happened at the Mecklenburg Hospital near Burgersfort last week.

Two women were admitted to the hospital in labour pains last Friday. One of the mothers gave birth to a stillborn baby the same day, while the other gave birth to a baby by Caesarean section the following day.

But the second baby also died a few hours after birth.

The provincial department of health and social development has launched an investigation into the controversial circumstances that led to the bungling.

According to department spokesman Phuti Seloba, it was not clear how the wrong body was given to the family.

He said one of the families, from GaMashabela village, went to collect their baby for burial at the weekend.

The other family, from neighbouring GaSelepe village, had reserved the burial for a later date, apparently because they were still organising funds for the funeral.

The family from GaMashabela was unaware that they were given the wrong corpse when they went to collect their baby.

The problem only emerged when the other family went to collect theirs for burial on Tuesday. They realised that the body was not that of their baby.

It was then discovered that the other family from GaMashabela had been given the wrong body.

"We have since advised the family from GaMashabela to arrange with the police to go and exhume the body they buried because it was the wrong one," Seloba said.

He said matters came to a head when the family became reluctant to do so and said they needed a letter from a local headman to allow them permission to exhume the body.

"Under these circumstances, it is clear that we were at fault for the mix-up, hence we have instituted an investigation.

"We will take appropriate action against anyone who might have been negligent on our part," said Seloba.

Police spokesman Superintendent Mohale Ramatseba said the family should seek a court order to force the other family to exhume the body.