Doves Funeral Services has suspended three of its employees as it seeks to get to the bottom of a case in which an empty coffin was presented to a bereaved family before the actual body of deceased Maxwell Chimwamurombe was eventually buried in a pauper’s grave at Mbudzi cemetery in Harare some days later.
In an interview, Doves Funeral Services managing director, Mr Talent Maziwisa said they had nothing to hide and were prepared to use experts such as scientists and carry out DNA tests to ensure that the truth is laid bare.
He said they had since engaged the concerned family members in Nyanga and traditional leaders in the area in their quest to find closure to the case which occurred in March this year at the height of Covid-19 national lockdown where body viewing of deceased persons was not allowed.
“As management we have created a committee to investigate. The initial preliminary investigations were not conclusive but made it imperative that we engage the family so that they are aware of the concerns we had picked,” said Mr Maziwisa.
“Our view is that the whole process is scientifically done, exhumation, DNAs where necessary so that the late Maxwell is laid to rest. As a company we have nothing to hide. We have done three suspensions to clear the ground for thorough internal investigations. We empathise with the family given what they are going through emotionally.”
Reports indicate that relatives and friends of the late Maxwell Chimwamurombe gathered in Avilla area, Nyanga in March this year for burial where Doves brought an empty coffin.
Without conducting body viewing due to the prevailing Covid-19 restrictions, the family went on to bury the empty coffin.
Some six months later, the family learnt from sources that Doves had realised the anomaly three days after the burial of an empty coffin, but decided to offer the deceased a pauper’s burial at Mbudzi cemetery without notifying the family.
In a bid to rectify the anomaly, Doves engaged the traditional leaders in Nyanga who fined them a beast and later allowed them to conduct a fresh burial in his area of jurisdiction.
Chief Saunyama, born Victor Saunyama, confirmed engaging Doves Funeral Services.
“Doves Funeral Services has since been fined a beast for their error in terms of our customs. For now, we are conducting the processes that lead to the reburial of the deceased after Doves approached the family, all the local traditional leaders, police and the district development coordinator.
“All relevant offices for reburial have been approached. What we simply want after all the investigations have been completed is for the deceased to be accorded a decent burial in his rural area,” he said.
Chief Saunyama said reburials were not taboo as some people including war veterans who died in the armed struggle were reburied.