VICTORIA Chitepo Provincial Hospital is in the eye of a storm after incinerating a stillborn baby while the family was preparing for burial at its rural home, The Manica Post has learnt.
It is understood that the baby’s mother initially consented to the incineration before having a change a heart and then coming back to the institution to demand her baby’s corpse.
Last week, a Chiadzwa couple had the shock of their life when they went to the hospital to collect their child’s body for burial at their rural home, only to be told that it had been incinerated the previous week.
The Manica Post caught up with the family last Thursday as they milled around the hospital searching for answers following the development.
They allegedly got an apology from an administrator only identified as Mrs Mutara.
Ms Melline Nyadongo of Chikara Village under Chief Marange had a stillbirth on September 25 after enduring 72 hours of labour pain.
In an interview, the father of the deceased, Mr Timothy Chikara, said he had brought a coffin to collect his child’s body.
He said after his wife had a stillbirth, they failed to transport the body to Marange due to financial constraints.
“We opted to have the baby incinerated, but the hospital authorities told us that their incinerator was malfunctioning. They said they would call us to witness the process once the incinerator was repaired.
“We waited for the hospital’s call since September 26 until we decided to look for funds so that we could bury our child. We were shocked when we arrived at the mortuary, only to be told that our baby had been incinerated the previous week. The mortuary attendant told us that bodies were decomposing in the mortuary, hence the decision to incinerate them,” said Mr Chikara, who was in the company of his mother, Ms Rumbidzai Jinga.
Mr Chikara said they were told by the hospital administrator, a Mrs Mutara, that the incineration of the bodies was a last resort as the bodies were piling up and decomposing.
“The hospital administrator apologised on behalf of the hospital and told us that there were too many uncollected and decomposing bodies in the mortuary,” he said.
Ms Jinga chipped in: “The baby’s spirit was already troubling us and demanding burial, not incineration, so we decided to raise money for a coffin. We hired a truck to transport the body for burial back home, but we are now stranded. We do not know what to do,” said the teary elderly woman.
She said while they were at the mortuary, another man who had come to collect his child’s corpse was told the same thing and left empty-handed.
Another woman, Ms Pamhidzai Mashanga from Rusape is having sleepless nights as she is not sure if her seven-year-old child’s body has not been incinerated.
Ms Mashanga said she did not get a satisfactory answer from the hospital mortician when she called last week on Tuesday enquiring about her son’s body.
“I am in pain because I do not know if my child’s body is still at the hospital mortuary or not. When I called the hospital, I was told that they no longer know if my child’s corpse is there or not.
“They claim that the bodies are decomposing and it is now difficult to positively identify them. They asked me to come and go to the mortuary and help identify my son’s body. However, I am in Rusape and I have no money to travel to Mutare,” said the woman whose child’s corpse has been in the mortuary since September 21.
Investigations conducted by The Manica Post revealed that the situation at the provincial referral’s morgue is dire due to erratic power supplies as well as repairs being undertaken on the other mortuary, resulting in some uncollected bodies decomposing.
A penchant smell engulfs the section near the mortuary.
Approached by The Manica Post for a comment, Mrs Mutara referred the reporter to the Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital Medical Superintendent, Dr Dorcas Masanga-Mutede.
When contacted for comment, Dr Mutede-Masanga referred the reporter to the Provincial Medical Director.
“I cannot comment on any of that. You can give me the name of the mother and the dates when this allegedly happened. I will do my investigations and give the responses to the PMD. I cannot talk to you directly because I also have my own bosses who restrict me from doing that,” she said.
Acting Manicaland Provincial Medical Director, Dr Munyaradzi Mukuzunga said the baby’s corpse was incinerated with the consent of the mother, adding that she signed the required documentation.
He also confirmed that the referral hospital’s incinerator had not been working for about a month, which coincides with the woman’s delivery date – September 25.
“The body was in the mortuary awaiting incineration after the mother’s consent had been obtained. When the incinerator was repaired, the body was disposed of, basing on the parent’s consent. Bodies are not incinerated without the knowledge of their relatives,” he said.
He, however, could not respond on whether the hospital’s mortuary is working efficiently or not.