MESSAGES OF condolences from friends and neighbours filled their cellphones.

And a candle was lit while the chief mourner was seated on a mattress as is custom when a loved one has died.

This was the scene at the Mvelase home in Meadowlands, Soweto, as they prepared for their mum’s funeral.

But a mix up would halt the funeral preparations.

And the family is hurt they were put through the worst for nothing.

Photo by Christopher MoagiPhoto by

The family’s nightmare started when Mbali (31) received a call on Thursday night from Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Jabulani, Soweto, where her mum Duduzile had been admitted.

She was informed her 61-year-old mum had died, and the family went to the hospital the next morning to identify the body.

Duduzile’s brother, Bishop Bhekizizwe, said they were told she’d died from Covid-19.

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He said they were told four other gogos aged between 61 and 75 had died from the virus,and this convinced them of Duduzile’s cause of death because of her age.

But they were presented with the wrong body when they went to identify it. Bhekizizwe said: “They showed us the body of another gogo. She didn’t have teeth and Duduzile’s teeth were still intact.We told them it was the wrong body, but the undertakers said the name was correct. We showed them photos of Duduzile and that they gave us the wrong patient.”

He said they were not in denial about Duduzile’s death – they just didn’t want to take the wrong body.

Bhekizizwe was then given personal protective clothing and a search ensued for his sister’s body.

He was taken to various mortuaries, including those where bodies of people who died of Covid-19 were stored.

“We went from one body bag to another, unzipping and zipping, but could still not find her. I was getting angry as I couldn’t find my sister,” he said. But nothing could prepare the family for what they found when they continued with the search.“We went from one ward to ward and found her seated in the surgical ward,” he said. “I spoke to her and convinced her to eat and take her medication as we were told she wasn’t eating. I then called the family and told them to put the mattress back on the base as my sister was alive and well.”

However, happy as the family was that Duduzile was alive, they are fuming over the hospital mixup and hurt by the trauma they were put through.

Mbali said: “The process of the funeral preparation was the hardest – it was a nightmare.”

Duduzile’s niece, Nomsa Myeni, said it was hard because Duduzile is the head of the household.

“It was like a giant tree had fallen. She makes things happen when she’s around. She likes order.

“We didn’t have time to process everything, but wanted to quickly prepare for the funeral because it would have been a Covid-19 death.”

Nomsa said because of the mixup, she now wonders if Duduzile was given the right medication.

Gauteng Health Spokeswoman, Kwara Kekana conceded that the wrong family was called by the hospital due to the mix up of the patient’s files. “Counselling wil be organised for the family and a redress process for the quality assurance team.”