Two years in a Mortuary

Portia Mlilo
UPSET: Gaoberekwe Pitseng's family

Govt owes mortuary over P1 million. “Ke stuck ka setopo, this is just too much for me” -mortuary owner

A Mosarwa tribesman Gaoberekwe Pitseng’s body has remained at Joyce’s Funeral Parlour for 2 years and four months, as his children refuse to collect it for burial because government has denied the family the right to bury him in his ancestral land, the CKGR.

Pitseng died on Christmas Eve in 2021. Initially, the Gantsi District Council took the Pitseng family to the High Court to seek an order to bury the deceased in NewXade, contrary to the family’s wishes for a CKGR burial.

The council argued that the late Pitseng had been enrolled under its social welfare program, making him a resident of New Xade and, consequently, New Xade was therefore his appropriate burial location.

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In 2014, Gaoberekwe relocated to New Xade due to a lengthy illness and the need for healthcare facilities. The Gantsi council had allocated him a plot and built him a house at the time.

After losing the case in court, the family refused to collect Pitseng’s body, insisting that he be laid to rest in his ancestral land, alongside his forefathers.

In response to a Court of Appeal judgment upholding the High Court’s decision, the family turned to the African Union Court.

Speaking to The Voice, the family Spokesperson Smith Moeti said that he recently went to meet two lawyers in South Africa who committed to represent them at the African Union court.

He went on to say the duo held a virtual meeting with other local lawyers sharing notes.

“They are finalizing the case, and they should be registering it next week. We will not rest until justice is done. Basarwa are discriminated against and not allowed to have multiple residences or choose where to bury their deceased parents and relatives, a right enjoyed by other communities in Botswana. They are taking us for granted as Basarwa,” said Moeti

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When reached for a comment the mortuary owner Joyce Dikkop said she doesn’t know where to get help.

She said she is also thinking of going to court seeking an order for the Ghanzi Primary Hospital to come and collect the body since they are the ones who brought him.

Dikkop said the last time she received payment was P66 000 in 2022 from the Social and Community Development council department.

“The bill now amounts to more than a P1million. My employees are traumatized, and I am now thinking of getting them professional help at my own expenses. The body has been dumped, the family used to come here to view it and now they have stopped. I recently went to see the council secretary who sent me to the District Commissioner and I was told he has been transferred. When I call the family, they tell me the matter is before court. Ke stuck ka setopo. This is just too much for me,” said Dikkop

Meanwhile the hospital could not comment on a case that is before court.

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“We are unable at this point in time to respond to the specific questions you ask because the case you refer to, is still undergoing some legal processes. We therefore do not wish to be seen to be simultaneously interrogating the issue at this point in time,” Ghanzi Primary Hospital Public Relations Officer Lorraine Chakalisa said in response to The Voice questionnaire.

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