News / South Africa

Bonakele Sithole
3 minute read
15 Nov 2018
3:43 pm

Man buried in wrong Joburg grave dug up and moved

Bonakele Sithole

His family was unimpressed with the mix-up after the commencement of his eternal rest was soon cut short.

Family and staff at Westpark Cemetery carry out the casket of Andries Van Zyl as he had been buried int the incorrect gravesite.

Andries Van Zyl was buried on 9 November at Westpark Cemetery, but his family quickly realised the place he had been laid to rest was the wrong gravesite.

The Northcliff Melville Times arrived at Westpark Cemetery just as staff were digging up Van Zyl’s casket from the gravesite.

Speaking to one of the deceased’s relatives, she expressed how disappointed she was with Westpark Cemetery management. She claimed they had not taken responsibility for the incorrect burial of her uncle and had instead blamed the undertakers.

Westpark Cemetery staff working at a gravesite to dig up the casket of Andries Van Zyl.

Matthew O’Conner, a nephew of the deceased, said, “Cement surrounding the gravesite made us suspicious that this was not the correct grave and I asked the staff here about three times if it is the correct place where we’re supposed to bury my uncle, and they said yes.

“But after the funeral, when comparing the gravesite number provided by the funeral parlour and that of my uncle’s grave, we then discovered this is not where my uncle was supposed to buried.”

The remembrance note of the late Andries Van Zyl who had already been buried when his family discovered that it was not his correct gravesite.

Van Zyl’s family put on a brave face as they fought for the removal of the casket, but they were in shock and disbelief as they watched this happen.
“We were correct in our doubts. Look now, this is a mess! He was meant to be in another section.”

City Parks and Zoo spokesperson Jenny Moodley said: “Sadly the affected family was left distraught and Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo’s cemetery staff intervened to remedy the error on the part of the funeral director.”

Moodley stated that the funeral director involved was to blame for the incident.

The casket of deceased Andries Van Zyl leaving the cemetery to go back to the mortuary as the casket had been broken while digging it out of an incorrect gravesite.

“The funeral director should have engaged with the cemetery bookings office at Westpark, but rather consulted with security on site. This resulted in the burial in the incorrect gravesite. The funeral director then subsequently removed the casket and relocated it to the correct grave.”

Moodley urged funeral directors to follow all protocols when arranging a funeral and to verify allocated gravesites prior to arriving at a cemetery.

The site of the incorrect grave where Andries Van Zyl was buried and dug up again.

“Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo is sure that this incident will not happen again, and security have been advised in this regard as well.”

While at the scene of the gravesite, the family of the deceased who was going to be buried at the site the next day arrived, as they had been called out to see what was going on. Both families were disappointed by the incident.

Van Zyl’s body was then taken back to the mortuary after he was dug out of the incorrect grave. He was put in a new casket and reburied at the correct graveside later that day.

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