'My son got buried by wrong family' - Mom awaits son’s body after hospital mix-up

Willem Mahlangu, the deceased's uncle and Betty Sikhosana, the mother of the late Simon Sikhosana, who was taken from the mortury by another family. His famiy wish to have the opportunity to bury their child themselves.
Willem Mahlangu, the deceased's uncle and Betty Sikhosana, the mother of the late Simon Sikhosana, who was taken from the mortury by another family. His famiy wish to have the opportunity to bury their child themselves.
Image: KABELO MOKOENA

Betty Sikhosana's grief after losing her first born was severely intensified after a disastrous mix-up at an Mpumalanga hospital resulted in the 68-year-old being buried by the wrong family.

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, Sikhosana said she was still waiting for the body of her son Simon to be exhumed from a grave about 90km away.

This after a family from Pankop received Simon's body from Mmametlhake Hospital in Mpumalanga following his death on September 15, and proceeded to hold a funeral for the person they thought was their loved one.

Sikhosana said she was struggling to cope with the thought of her child in another person's grave.

"I'm in pain. I don't know what to do. All I want is to bury my son. It hurts me that other people buried him," she said.

Sikhosana said Simon, who had been living and working in Pretoria, died at the Mmametlhake Hospital after suffering from a lung disease.

Simon Skhosana was taken from the mortury by another family and has been buried.
Simon Skhosana was taken from the mortury by another family and has been buried.

"He loved me and looked after me. But now I don't even have money to bury him. I'm stressed," she said.

Sikhosana said Simon was living with his girlfriend and her two children but had no children of his own.

Simon's uncle, Willem Mahlangu, who had gone to the hospital to identify the body, said he got the shock of his life when he realised that the person shown to him was not his nephew.

Mahlangu said he immediately alerted hospital staff that the body was not his nephew. "I told them that they showed me the wrong body and demanded to know what had happened to my nephew's body," he said.

Mahlangu said at first staff members thought he was mistaken but it was later confirmed that there was a mix-up when the other family was called in.

"I want to know how they gave my nephew to the wrong people to bury. How did that family go ahead and bury my nephew. I want answers," he said.

Mahlangu said they had been waiting for over two weeks for the problem to be resolved and issue was taking its toll on the family.

"I now have to bury my nephew because his mother is unable to afford the funeral. We are ready to lay him to rest but how can we do that when he is lying all the way there in Pankop? This is troubling me. I can't even sleep at night," he said.

When reached for comment yesterday, the family who had mistakenly buried Simon declined respond to Sowetan's questions.

Spokesperson at the provincial health department, Dumisane Malamule, said they would comment on the specific case after getting all the facts. However, he said if a family believed that their relatives body has been given to the wrong people they must approach the South African Police Service to compile a written affidavit.

Malamule said once the process was completed with the police, the family must approach the provincial health department so that the exhumation order can be finalised. He said once everything was done, it should take less than a month for the body to be exhumed and given to the correct family.

Johan Rousseau, the chairperson of the Funeral Industry Reformed Association, said such incidents happen in SA all the time due to negligence and the fact that the industry was not properly regulated. Rousseau said this was unfortunate as grieving families were exposed to more trauma after losing their loved ones.

He said both the families in this case should receive counselling while government must foot the bill for the exhumation.

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