Sisters Livhuwani (right) and Vivian Mudau, who are determined to make sure that their mother is buried where she wanted to be buried, stand at the partly dug-up grave at Mulenzhe on Friday.

Drama as siblings fight over mother's corpse


African tradition dictates that the dead be treated with respect and should be left to rest in peace in their final resting place after death.

This is, however, not the case with Granny Mukatshelwa Mudau of Mulenzhe outside Malamulele. The granny had not known peace in life and is still facing the same in death.

The 93-year-old granny passed away in February and was buried amidst conflict in the family, who could not agree where she should be buried.

Part of her family successfully interdicted the burial, which was scheduled to take place at Nngwekhulu in Vuwani, allegedly as per the old woman's wish. She was finally buried at the Mulenzhe cemetery in the Collins Chabane Municipality, against the wishes of the other children.

That was the start a Muvhango-like drama in the family, with daughters of the late granny fighting that their mother's wish be granted and that she be buried at Nngwekhulu.

Last Thursday, the situation took an ugly turn and a drama unfolded at the local cemetery, where the gogo's grave was partly dug up by two daughters who wanted to rebury the body at her chosen final resting place.

The two sisters’ mission could, however, not be accomplished as they were stopped by their other siblings.

The deceased's daughter, Livhuwani Mudau, said the family was torn in two, with her other siblings refusing to follow her mother’s last wishes. "This started many years ago when our mother was chased from her own home by one of our brothers and she bought another house, which was also taken. My mother suffered for the rest of her life and when she fell ill, no one visited her in the hospital. We are the ones who were taking care of her until her last day on earth.”

She said that they were very surprised that when she passed on, their brothers started to have an interest in her funeral. “They waited for us to prepare her burial at Nngwekhulu as per her wish but then prevented us from burying through a court order. We were very shocked and saddened. That is why we decided to get a lawyer to help us exhume her and rebury her at her place of her choice," she said.

Mudau said they had followed all the protocols but were stopped from exhuming her body by the same people who prevented them from burying her.

She added that they would not rest until their mother was buried at Nngwekhulu where she wished to be buried.

Representing the other group who are against the reburial, Mr Solomon Mamphwe said they had followed all the legal protocols and would only wait for the law to protect the integrity of the old woman and allow her to rest in peace.

"We are not fighting anybody as you can see here. We will await the law to take its course," he said at the cemetery.

The senior local traditional leader and businessman Thovhele Nkhaneni Ramovha confirmed that the family had approached the traditional authority to get permission to exhume the body. "We told the family that it is possible, but they have to follow certain procedures before that could be done. We told them a court order would be needed as a starting point, but we were later surprised to hear that they were trying to dig up the grave," he said.

At the time of our going to press it was not clear what the next steps, if any, the two sisters would be taking.



A new coffin was also ready at the Mulenzhe cemetery to take the granny to a new final resting place at Nngwekhulu in Vuwani.

The late Mukatshelwa Mudau. 


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Date:05 May 2019 - By: Elmon Tshikhudo

Elmon Tshikhudo

Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and has since been a familiar name among the newspaper's readers.



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