I will not pay P700k mortuary bill – family member

Bame Piet
UPSET: Gaoberekwe Pitseng's family

We are traumatized by the corpse– Mortuary owner

The standoff between the Government and the family of Pitseng Gaoberekwe whose body has been lying at a Gantsi Mortuary for the last two and half years has now caused divisions in the family of the deceased.

Brother to the deceased, Roy Sesana who is also a famed human rights activist who led Basarwa during a legal battle against their relocation from the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) to New Xade and other village has told The Voice newspaper that he is disappointed that his nephew, Smith Moeti continues to delay the burial of Gaoberekwe, describing the condition of the corpse as shocking.

“I don’t have much to say about the funeral except to confirm that he is still lying in the mortuary. What I hear from the morgue officers and the family members who have viewed the corpse is that it is in a bad state,” said Sesana in an interview last month.

He added that Moeti has since pushed him aside saying that he is not educated and therefore not in a position to appreciate what he is fighting for.

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“They say that I’m not educated and they don’t want to engage me in the matter. I have also accepted their position and decided to stay on the sidelines. Our conflict started way back during the era of former President Ian Khama when I fought for basic government services to be brought closer to the people inside the CKGR. They say I have sold the CKGR land to the Government,” he told The Voice.

Moeti who is on a campaign trail for a council seat said this week that Sesana knows what he did and therefore he can not claim to have been sidelined.

I will not pay P700k mortuary bill – family member

“He joined the civil service and left us, and we are still where he left us. The old man’s grave is still waiting for his body at Metsiamanong inside the CKGR where he belongs. The Government refused to hand over the corpse immediately after the Court of Appeal ruling saying it is the Ministry of Health who should conduct the burial since Gaoberekwe died of COVID19. They lied about the cause death, but their lies are catching up with them now,” said Moeti who has led the family during their legal battle for government to allow Pitseng to be buried in CKGR.

Gaoberekwe died in December 2021, and his wish was to be buried in his ancestral land of Metsiamanong in the CKGR.

The Mortuary owner Joyce Dekkop said that she has recently approached the District Commissioner for their intervention but the new office said he was still familiarising himself with the case.

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“What is left is just a skeleton and our employees are traumatised. The family is no longer coming here, and the Government is difficult to deal with. We do not know what to with the corpse, and the bill has skyrocketed to over P700,000.00,”Dekkop said. She added that she recently met with one of the daughters of the deceased who also lamented the delay of her father’s burial and lack of communication from other family members and their lawyers.

“She told me that she suspected that the corpse has become a cash cow for some individuals and this has divided and continues to traumatise the family. The lady said she was now taking hypertension treatment because of the case,” Dekkop said.

Meanwhile, Moeti said he would not pay the mortuary bill, and nobody should dare engage him on the matter since it is the government that caused the delay of the burial.

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However, the Government has insisted that he should be buried in New Xade village outside the CKGR, a place of his birth as stated on his National Identity Card.

In January 2023 the Court of Appeal ordered the family to bury him in New Xade within seven days, but that has since not happened.

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