Police have been called to investigate after a family collecting a body for burial at Nyaradzo Funeral Services in Harare discovered it had been mutilated.
The body of Patricia Mhizha, of Zvishavane, had the lower lip sliced off and the right side of her nose disfigured.
The family has refused to bury Mhizha who died aged 46 last Saturday until police have established who abused her corpse.
Patrick Mhizha, the twin brother of the late Patricia, said his sister had battled a heart ailment for 14 years until her death in Zvishavane last Saturday.
“They cut her lip off and it’s sad, because I’m the one who attended to my sister when she died. We identified her and her body was intact before Nyaradzo took her remains to Harare. Nyaradzo called us on Sunday informing us that the body had arrived safely and that we should bring blankets and clothes for the dressing,” he told ZimLive.
“On Monday this week, at Nyaradzo Herbert Chitepo branch, I was asked to verify an unusual defect on the corpse after my cousins had gone in first. I was shocked to see my sister had her lip cut off and nose disfigured.
“I asked them about it and the driver who took the body from Zvishavane denied knowing anything saying the corpse was transported in that state.”
The family claims when the driver was further interrogated by his Nyaradzo bosses, it was established that he failed to write down unusual details on the corpse as per procedure.
Patrick told ZimLive he had confirmation from the attending doctor in Zvishavane, nurses and a mortician that the corpse had no defects.
ZimLive has seen WhatsApp messages between Patrick and a mortician identified as Ngorima from Zvishavane.
“The body was in good shape and you noticed everything was ok. What happened, and what are the people of Nyaradzo saying?” queried Ngorima.
The matter has since been reported to the Harare Central Police Station.
During a meeting with relatives on Tuesday, Nyaradzo Group operations manager Justin Chidemo Muchazivepi suggested that the Mhizha family could have failed to notice the defect back in Zvishavane since mourners are usually not comfortable viewing a body at close range.
He denied allegations of body mutilation, further suggesting it could have been rat bite.
“We have CCTV cameras all over our premises and trackers attached to our vehicles to notice anything unusual. We don’t know what could have happened, we can only speculate,” he said.
“We don’t have any reason to deny anything but we just want to investigate the circumstances leading to this situation.”
Relatives at the brief meeting were annoyed by Muchazivepi’s remarks.
In a statement, Nyaradzo said it transferred Mhizha’s body into its care from a government mortuary in Zvishavane “albeit with lower lip and nose lacerations.”
“Collaborative efforts are underway between ourselves, her family, the place of initial care, the police as well as the forensic pathology unit to ascertain the facts of this unfortunate occurrence,” the company said.
Patricia was set to be buried on Tuesday but burial has been postponed until police finish their investigation.