Zim family’s cremation fears in two-month battle to repatriate body of loved one

Zim family’s cremation fears in two-month battle to repatriate body of loved one

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A Zimbabwean family is seeking financial assistance to repatriate the body of their loved one, Fortunate Samoyo, which has been in a mortuary in Cape Town for almost two months.

They fear they will run out of time and his body will be cremated as per medical protocol.

The 33-year-old Samoyo was living in Mbekweni, Paarl, when he died on May 10 after a short illness.

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The family has managed to raise R12 000, but said they need help to raise another R8 000.

Family friend William Mapfumo, speaking on behalf of the family, said it’s been a struggle getting the body home.

“This is a very painful situation for the family, they don’t want his body to be cremated. They want to bury him right next to his ancestors and other family members.

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“We have tried to raise money for the body to be kept in the mortuary, but now we are struggling to take the body back to Zimbabwe,” said Mapfumo.

Emergency Medical Services and Forensic Pathology Services spokesperson Deanna Bessick said: “Prior to Covid-19, there was no time limit in which remains should be kept in a mortuary, however, the law does allow the government to dispose of unclaimed or unknown remains, which are unclaimed for 30 days.

The Western Cape Government (WCG), however, often attempts to keep these remains for longer periods if the family wishes to reclaim these remains for repatriation or burial.

“If the remains are at one of our facilities and the family cannot afford the repatriation, then the family will be advised to consider cremation as an option, as cremated remains can be easily and cheaply moved.

“If cremation is not an option, the remains will have to be buried and the family may apply for an exhumation at a later date when they have funds, and then have the remains repatriated.

“The WCG offers pauper burial/cremations for deceased who pass away in our facilities and if the next of kin or family members are unable to cover burial/cremation cost.

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“The cost does not extend to repatriation of deceased’s remains. The next of kin is encouraged to contact the government of the deceased’s home country to cover repatriation costs,” said Bessick.

Samoyo’s widow Privilege Mabhikwa can be contacted on 061 638 0813, or William Mapfumo on 073 706 7738.

NEWS