Zimbabwean musician has been in the mortuary for a record two years
A corpse of a Zimbabwean musician has been stuck in a mortuary for two years. The two-year-delay arose from a misunderstanding between relatives of the dead man and the Zimbabwean government on who should take the burial responsibility.
The corpse could indefinitely remain in the Doves Funeral Parlour unless the relatives or the Zimbabwe government takes the responsibility to bury the poor man.
Josephate Matope’s corpse was allegedly rejected by Princess Marina hospital after he was certified dead upon arrival at the hospital in August 2008. His Tanzanian friend, Albert Chikopa signed him into Doves mortuary in Broadhurst, Gaborone. But now the mortuary is stuck with the body because no relatives have come forth to claim the body.
“I am stuck with the body. The Zimbabwean High Commission does not want to help and the social services would not allow me to bury the body,” complained the mortuary owner, Cecil Soutter who said the that the mortuary cost is P165 a day.
Zim Govt and family not responding
Cecil Soutter says all he knows about the man who was a drummer and guitarist for different local musicians including Franco and Moswallows is that he was from a poor family somewhere near Harare.
“At least that is what I was told by the Zimbabwean High Commission, which has not been of much help,” he further revealed.
Aggrieved Albert Chikopa who rushed Matope to Princess Marina hospital that fateful August, says the hospital would not take in the corpse because the hospital mortuary was full.
He pointed out: “To date the mortuary costs had not been paid because nobody has come forth to claim the corpse. I have surrendered his travel documents to the mortuary.”
Chikopa unsuccessfully attempted to get the Zimbabwean High Commission in Gaborone to help with the burial and his efforts to call Matope’s relatives from the contacts he retrieved from his mobile phone did not bear fruit.
“I talked to a man named Chapenduka and he promised to tell Matope’s brother, but neither the man nor family returned the call. So I could not do anything but to contact the Zimbabwean Embassy here in Botswana who have equally not showed any interest in taking care of the deceased,” Chikopa said.
Matope’s former colleague, Bonalemong Kwambala popularly known as Moswallows of Bojanala fame, says other musicians and friends could have buried the corpse if the Zimbabwean embassy or the deceased relatives allowed them.
“The deceased was my friend and he played instruments for my band. I personally volunteered to buy a coffin so that he can have a decent send off. However it is unfortunate because circumstances would not let us,” said Kwambala.
At the time of going to print, The Foreign Affairs Ministry had not received a request of burial or repatriation from the relatives.
Discussing the procedure of handling a corpse of a foreign national, Pako Moremi of Foreign affairs office in Gaborone said, “In the case where a foreigner passes away when he is in the country, the relatives have to approach their country’s High Commission in the country which would write a request of repatriation or burial. The Foreign affairs Ministry will then write another letter to the District commissioner who would then make an order for burial.”
Information from Foreign affairs suggests that the government cannot do anything about the body until Zimbabwe, through the High Commission makes a request.
At the time of print on Wednesday evening, the Zimbabwean High Commission had not responded to The Voice questionnaire.