Zimbabwe funeral company buries empty coffin and secretly inters body months later

An Eastern Cape teacher has been handed a suspended prison sentence after admitting to falsely claiming R45,000 from two funeral policies in cahoots with a police reservist who faked his death.
An Eastern Cape teacher has been handed a suspended prison sentence after admitting to falsely claiming R45,000 from two funeral policies in cahoots with a police reservist who faked his death.
Image: 123rf/ dolgachov

The oldest funeral services company in Zimbabwe, Doves, reportedly buried an empty coffin in error, and then secretly buried the body months later without informing the family.

The shocking claims have been made by a Harare law firm which is taking legal action on behalf of the family. The unusual saga involves the body of Maxwell Chimwamurombe, who died in a drowning incident in March this year.

A statement by the law firm, Chimwamurombe Legal Practice, reads: “Your organisation presented our clients with a coffin without a corpse for burial. Your organisation realised three days after the burial that the body was still in the mortuary. Your organisation kept quiet about the body it had from March 2021 to August 2021 (approximately 6 months).”

It adds that they then concealed this “burying our client’s relative without their knowledge and consent with a pauper at Granville cemetery (Ku Mbudzi)".

“In a more shocking and completely unheard-of move, the burial was a ‘mass grave’ type of burial. We are advised that our client’s relative was either buried in the same coffin with the pauper or buried in the same grave. All circumstances the burial being utterly disrespectful and demeaning the Chimwamurombe family. One cannot rule out ritualism,” the legal practice said.

The deceased was buried without a body-viewing ceremony being conducted because of  Covid-19 regulations, and the lightness of the coffin was explained by the funeral services company’s undertaker as being the result of it containing merely a few body parts that were recovered from the drowning incident.

Doves' top executives met with the family to try to resolve the issue amicably and in a statement the funeral services company said it was currently carrying out a full investigation.

“The meeting sought to find a way forward and initiate the exhumation process at both burial sites involving the deceased families. We are committed to full investigation on the matter and bring to completion,” said Doves Funeral Services' executive management.

But in a strange twist of events, the funeral services company has accused one of the lawyers representing the family of attempted extortion by demanding “to be immediately bought a brand new SUV motor vehicle and be personally paid USD$123,000” within a period of less than 12 hours or else he would tarnish their image by publicising the case of the empty coffin.

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