Litigation: Children take on dad over right to bury mother

A tussle took place in the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) between a father and his two children regarding the burial of his late wife and the mother of the children. Sidney Mkhize wanted to bury his wife Audrey Mkhize, but Moses and Pamela Mkhize felt that their mother had wanted them to handle the funeral. A Saturday Star report says Sidney turned to the court for an urgent order interdicting his children – or anyone instructed by them – from removing his wife’s body from the morgue. He also wanted his children barred from going ahead with the funeral arrangements and asked that the body remained in the morgue for the time being until he launched a further application on a non-urgent basis, where they could vent all their issues. In 2015, Sidney evicted his wife and children from the matrimonial home and obtained interdicts against all three of them to enforce the eviction. They relocated to family in Lenasia. During the same year he initiated divorce proceedings, but these were never finalized.

According to the children, their father had been unemployed for as long as they could remember and did not communicate with them for seven years, notes the Saturday Star report. In the weeks leading up to their mother’s death, he never contacted them, nor did he visit her. There was thus no family relationship, they said. Apart from this, the children said, they had already spent R75 000 on the funeral arrangements. Judge Moorcroft said the deceased was a born-again Christian who never practised or observed cultural practices. She was close to her children who naturally wanted to conduct the funeral. ‘The late Mrs Mhkize’s express wishes were not before the court, but one must infer from the evidence that it would have been her wish that she be buried under the supervision of her children out of the house she shared with them.’ The judge said she would not have wanted to be buried under the supervision of her husband with whom she had cultural differences and with whom she last lived on a permanent basis in 2007, and for a brief period in 2015 when she was evicted, and interdicts were obtained against her and the two children. ‘Taking all the evidence into account I concluded that there was no merit in the application,’ the judge said.

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