Family sues over infant whose body went missing from KZN mortuary

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The body of seven-month-old Sikhosana Mosemene went missing from a government mortuary in Pinetown a year ago and has still not been found. Now, says a Daily News report, the family is suing the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department for the trauma they have had to endure.

Sebode Mosemene, Sikhosana’s father, said the most painful part of the ordeal was not being able to bury his son, which had led to his wife suffering a nervous breakdown. “My status as a foreigner, and the fact that I’m poor and have no formal education, has made things worse. I have since gone to lawyers and they are handling the case. I want the department to pay for the pain and trauma that we have gone through. My wife is still not herself and she has refused to return to Durban since she left for Lesotho to prepare for the funeral. After she heard about her child’s body being missing, she was admitted to hospital, and she has been in and out ever since,” Mosemene is quoted in the report as saying.

He said the department had still not provided counselling to the family, nor had it explained the disappearance of the baby’s body.

The report says infant Sikhosana died on 26 March last year at an informal day care centre and his body was taken to the Pinetown mortuary. Two days later the baby’s body could not be found when the parents went to the mortuary to take it to Lesotho, their country of origin.

“I did not bury my child. I don’t know where his bones are. His spirit cannot rest without the religious and cultural rites that are performed when a person dies. We have been deprived of our right to lay our child to rest and to perform these rites. I’m less human to these people (the Health Department) because I’m a foreign national and I’m poor. That’s why I sought help from the lawyers. They (the department) must pay and I won’t rest until they do. As for my baby boy, I ask him to forgive me. There is nothing more I can do to find his remains and lay him to rest in dignity,” said the Welbedacht resident.

The report said that the department was still “considering” several options aimed at “minimising” the Mosemene family’s pain.

Thandi Sima, director of Thandi Sima and Associates, said they were representing the Mosemenes in the matter and that papers had been filed. We are still in the early stages of litigation, but we have issued summons to the department. We are waiting for their plea. Whether the matter goes to court depends on them (the department),” Sima said. She would not divulge the amount the family was seeking in damages from the department.

The report says the department ignored questions seeking to establish whether there was an investigation into the matter.

KZN Health Department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda is quoted in the report as saying: “This is now a legal matter. As a matter of principle the department does not comment on legal matters. The department’s legal team has had numerous engagements with the family’s legal representatives to keep them informed of developments.”

Daily News report

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