Today’s Hope Funeral Parlour in Johannesburg mistakenly swapped the body of Makarathi Sibanda, 36, from Fort Rixon with that of Natasha Chando, 21, of Mkoba suburb in Gweru.
Chando’s body was buried in Fort Rixon on Sunday last week and the funeral parlour notified Makarathi’s relatives of their mistake about 20 minutes after the burial.
Her body was exhumed on Wednesday last week.
The body mix-up, which shocked the two families and villagers in Nyozani under Chief Sibasa in Fort Rixon, saw the late Makarathi’s family gathering twice to bury her.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nkosilathi Sibanda said Chando’s body was mistakenly brought home after Lenny Sibanda identified it as that of her sister Makarathi.
“I can confirm that there was a mix up of bodies that happened in South Africa. Police assisted the two families in exhuming the body of the Gweru woman who had been buried in Fort Rixon,” said Asst Insp Sibanda.
Makarathi, who had not visited home for several years, and Chando, died after a short illness.
The late Makarathi’s mother, only identified as MaSibanda, told The Chronicle yesterday how devastated she was after learning that the person they had just buried was not her daughter.
This was after repatriating the body all the way from South Africa.
“I still can’t believe what happened. It was such a horrifying experience that I’ll never forget.
“My daughter died in South Africa after a short illness. We started organising her funeral and we agreed that three people will go and identify the body before bringing it home for burial.
“My other daughter and two of my brother’s children then left for South Africa,” said MaSibanda who could not go to South Africa because she had no passport.
She said all the paper work and the body identification was done but a wrong body was brought to her homestead.
“My daughter had not visited home for a very long time. I think this was the reason why it was difficult to identify her. The mix-up of bodies also happened probably because there were no name tags on the bodies. I’m sure if it were here in Zimbabwe the bodies would have tags to avoid mixing them up.
“About 20 minutes after burying Makarathi on Sunday, we received a call from the parlour in South Africa telling us that we had collected the wrong body. This was after the Gweru family went there to collect the body of their relative,” said MaSibanda.
She said they reported the matter to the police and an application was made to the District Administrator’s office to exhume Chando’s body.
“The Gweru family then came here and we exhumed the body. They positively identified their daughter and took it for burial.
“They then paid for Makarathi’s body to be taken to Beitbridge border post by the funeral parlour where we collected it and proceeded home for burial,” MaSibanda said.
The grave where Chando’s body was buried was sealed and a new grave was dug for Makarathi’s body.