Pretoria – A corpse that had been in a mortuary for four days, which ended up infested with maggots, started a bitter fight between a bereaved family in Klipgat and a funeral undertaker during the burial on Saturday.
The operator of Love Beauty funeral parlour, Solly Khoza, was allegedly beaten up by angry family members, who accused him of being responsible for the decomposition of Oupa Ngobeni’s body.
The deceased's relative, Lebogang Manamela, said the two parties were at each other's throats after the undertaker refused to open a coffin for the family to view the corpse.
Manamela said the family angrily insisted Khoza open the coffin, which he eventually did.
To their shock, they came across a decomposed body of the deceased with his face covered in maggots.
Manamela said the family would not allow the undertaker to take advantage of them.
"We are not going to allow him to get away with it. We are going to fight until we get the answers as to what actually happened," he said.
He accused Khoza of having failed to alert the family about the corpse's condition before he transported it from the mortuary to their home.
"We became a huge embarrassment to the community during the funeral," Manamela said.
Khoza, the operator of Love Beauty funeral parlour since 2009, claimed he was physically attacked and insulted by the deceased's relatives while he was inside his car.
Amid the fracas, he said, he managed to escape and rush to a local police station, where he requested to be accompanied by officers to the family for the burial to continue uninterrupted.
He refuted claims he was responsible for allowing the body to decompose under his care.
According to him, the deceased suffered from a sickness which caused him to develop maggots in his feet.
He said the allegations against him were made by relatives, who knew little about the deceased's health condition.
"I talked to the people who knew about the deceased's sickness. They said they used to wash his feet which had problems with developing maggots," he said.
Khoza said the body was stored inside a mortuary fridge, which only "made the body cold and did not necessarily freeze a corpse".
As far as he was told, the deceased was diabetic and his condition had reached a stage where he needed to have his legs amputated.
The widow, Mary Phiri, told Khoza her partner's body didn't have maggots when it was removed from the house and transported in a hearse to the mortuary.
Phiri, however, said she knew the deceased had a sickness, which caused his feet to have maggots.
The deceased committed suicide, according to the family.
Khoza said: "I fail to understand why I was accused of being responsible for decomposing the deceased's body while his wife knew about his sickness."
He, however, offered to compensate Phiri after the dust had settled.
"When you are calm, please come to the mortuary and I will see how I can compensate you," Khoza said.