In a curious twist of events, last week Friday, Francistown High Court judge, Barnabas Nyamadzabo had to give an order for the burial of an elderly woman whose children were fighting over her corpse. The siblings who are applicants in the matter, Malaki Bowane, Sibusiso Bowane and Priscillah Bowane made an urgent application before the high court against their other sibling, Freedom Bowane(respondent) demanding that their deceased mother be buried in her home village of Serowe.
The respondent had attempted to take their mother’s body to Senyawe village without the other siblings knowledge. His reasons were that the deceased was to be buried there as per custom. He also argued that the deceased has a yard in Senyawe.
According to the applicants founding affidavit, on the 17th of March 2015 they brought their deceased mother Ulliah Bowane to Nyangabwe Referral Hospital where she was referred to by the doctors from Sekgoma Memorial Hospital. Upon arrival at Nyangabwe Refferal Hospital, the deceased had some complications and passed on.
One of the siblings, Malaki Boweni who is based in Gaborone received a phone call from his sister informing him of the death of their mother. On the 19th of March 2015 he went to Lynn’s Funeral Parlour to make all the necessary arrangements to procure a coffin and pay for the removal of the deceased body from Nyangabwe Referral Hospital and to have her transported to Serowe where the family intended to bury her.
“I was duly issued with a funeral voucher to transport the body of the deceased to Serowe by Lyns Funeral Parlour. After issuing of the voucher, I called Nyangabwe Referral Hospital to try to arrange to move the body of the deceased to Lyn’s Funeral Parlour. To my amazement I was was told by the mortuary attendant that the body of the deceased has been moved from Nyangabwe Referral Hospital,” he states in the affidavit.
Still in shock of what had happened to their mother’s body, they together with other siblings launched a search until they found the body at Thusano Funeral Services. They learnt that the respondent is the one who referred the body to Thusano Funeral Services without their knowledge. He said on the 20th of March 2015 they approached the respondent to try and obtain the deceased’s registration form to secure the body in order to transport it to Serowe for burial where all funeral arrangements had been made.
“The respondent refused with the deceased’s registration form. Thusano Funeral Services also refused to release the body of the deceased without her registration form. I was also forced to purchase a coffin at Thusano Funeral Services for the sum of P9 500 whereas I have funeral policy with Lyn’s Funeral Parlour. I also had to pay for the transportation of the corpse to Palapye,” the court heard.
Through their lawyer, Kesegofestse Molosiwa of Molosiwa Attorneys the applicants prayed court for the matter to be treated as urgent, the reasons being that they desire their mother to be buried in Serowe on the 28th of March 2015. The other reason given by the applicants was that since the 17th of March 2015, Thusano Funeral Services has been charging them P1, 500 per day for keeping the deceased at its mortuary.
The applicants also prayed that the court exercise its discretion in their favor and grant them the relief sought; thus being an order declaring that Thusano Funeral Services release the body of their mother.
“We are seeking an order declaring that the body of Ulliah Bowane be buried in Serowe where the majority of her surviving children are,” said their lawyer.
Giving his ruling, Justice Nyamadzabo agreed with the applicants saying that the matter be declared as an urgent matter as to warrant the departure from the normal rules of court with respect to form and time limits.
“An order be and is hereby made in terms of the Draft Order filed of record as follows, the body of the deceased Ulliah Bowane who passed away at Nyangabwe Referral Hospital on the 17th of March 2015 be laid to rest at Masokola graveyard in Serowe. Thusano Funeral Services is to release the body of Ulliah Bowane to the applicants,” said the Judge.
He also ordered that the respondent pay storage fees incurred by Thusano Funeral Services for the days the body of the deceased spent at the mortuary. The respondent was also ordered to hand over the original death certificate and the deceased’s registration form with Thusano Funeral Services to Malaki Bowane(1st applicant) who is the deceased’s elder son.
“As regards the issue of costs, the respondent is to pay 50 percent of such costs to be agreed or taxed,” concluded the judge.