Cape Town – A grieving family from Bonteheuwel got a fright when they opened their mom’s coffin to find a strange woman inside.
Angry relatives of Louisa Petersen, 68, said after waiting 10 days to bury their beloved mother, they were shocked to discover they were given the wrong body.
Son Marc, 33, says tempers flared as his grieving sisters were ready to hit the undertaker.
He says his mother died in Somerset Hospital on 10 June from kidney failure but due to Covid-19 restrictions, they were unable to say goodbye.
“She had a policy where the gat (guy) comes with the boekie (receipt book) and once a month she paid R70, so the funeral and preparation of her body was handled by SA Funeral Trust,” he says.
Marc says after delays in getting the body from the mortuary, the family were told they could go ahead with the funeral on Saturday morning.
“The undertaker brought the body for a viewing in the house and the children and grandchildren stood around to say goodbye.
“This was the first time we could say goodbye properly but we got a moerse skrik (huge fright) when we saw it’s another woman.”
Sister Leslene, 41, says she noticed the woman had lots of hair and checked the body.
“My mother never had so much hair. Then I saw she was wearing red and I had given them red silk pyjamas to bury my mother in, but luckily that woman was not wearing her clothes. The undertaker got such a skrik (fright), he jumped into the corner because he was scared of us.”
Marc says they took the body back to the funeral parlour and were informed that the bodies were accidentally swapped.
“It was really traumatising for us and we were already grieving. They didn’t even apologise and if we didn’t have a viewing, we could have buried the wrong person.”
SA Funeral Trust manager Eddie Meiring confirms the family were given the wrong body: “This has never happened before. Both families had the same coffin and the controller accidentally put the wrong lid on the coffin, it was a human error.
“Her (Louisa) body was on its way to Tafelsig and we called the undertaker back. I apologised, but it was not done on purpose.”