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Frozen alive
HOW DID SHE DIE?: The late Marea

‘Dead’ woman trapped in a morgue freezer dies trying to escape, family claims

More than a week after her death, a mother’s cold, distorted corpse remains stranded at Mahalapye Hospital Mortuary.

The family of 39-year-old Marea Andries are demanding answers and have refused to collect their daughter’s body for burial.

Chillingly, the family believe Marea was still alive when she was sent to the mortuary.

If true, it means the mother-of-three awoke to find herself trapped inside the mortuary’s chambers and suffered a truly terrifying death.

Diagnosed with skin cancer, Marea, of Mothabane ward in Kudumatse, was admitted to Mahalapye Hospital, where it is said she passed away on the 15th of September.

However, the late woman’s family grew suspicious when, having been called by the hospital to collect Marea’s body, they found it contorted into an unnatural position.

“We found her legs not straightened, the mouth open, lying on her side and the neck deformed. It shows that she was struggling and fighting to get out while inside their caskets,” insisted the deceased’s aunt, Mercy Andries, 45, in an exclusive interview with The Voice.

Mercy suspects the hospital could have neglected their child, and rushed into taking her to the mortuary when she was still alive.

To add to the family’s pain, in the midst of their mourning, they received an insensitive call from the hospital.

“They asked us to come to the hospital since they wanted to cut her body into pieces so that it would fit into the casket. I mean, how do you say such things to mourning people?” Mercy demanded furiously, adding that the family refused to sign the papers they were given from the hospital, which requested permission to ‘cut up Marea’s body’.

According to Mercy, Mahalapye Hospital Superintendent Dr Boss later apologised for his staff’s lack of tact.

“He told us that the hospital was not supposed to put us through that trauma but to do the operation without involving us. He now used the word ‘operation’ instead of ‘cut’.”

The deceased’s mother, Matsie Andries, 55, who has been lying in the house as per local tradition, pleaded with the family to find a common understanding with the hospital.

“What I want now is to give my child’s soul rest; I just want to see all this mess gone. I want my brothers and sisters to give the hospital the go ahead, we have mourned enough,” she said wearily, gently wiping away the silent, unrelenting tears that trickled slowly down her weather-beaten face.

“This is my first born and I don’t like how the hospital treated us but there is nothing I can do,” concluded a trembling Matsie, flinching inadvertently at the agonising fate her daughter potentially experienced.

In stark contrast to Matsie, head of the family, 79-year-old Simon Netshapala was in no mood for forgiveness.

“The hospital killed my granddaughter and now they are torturing us further. What are we going to tell the deceased’s kids? I know news of their mother being cut is spreading all over,” he seethed, adding that because of their poor background, the family cannot afford legal advice.

Pleading with lawyers to come forward and help, Netshapala revealed the family were struggling to cope with the financial burden of Marea’s death.

“Apart from the shock that we have, we do have daily prayers and we have to feed those who come to comfort us. We slaughter goats and give mourners tea and bread every day,” he said.

When contacted for a comment, Dr Boss confirmed knowing about the issue but referred all queries to the hospital’s spokesperson, Pauline Bontle.

Though she said that she was out of the office, Bontle acknowledged she was aware of the Andries family’s complaint.

“I am not in a position to explain the details that transpired but all I know is that the deceased had contractors,” she said, explaining that ‘a contractor’ is a situation where the patient is unable to walk.

Meanwhile, the woman’s dead body remains trapped in limbo at Mahalapye Hospital Mortuary.