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03.06.2006 Obituaries

Mistaken identity of corpse creates confusion in Kumasi

By Erastus Asare-Donkor

The timely intervention of an old lady at a funeral saved a bereaved family in Kumasi the embarrassment of mistakenly giving a fitting burial to a dead person that does not belong to their stock. The family, residing at Daban in Kumasi was also saved from what could have been an intricate legal battle over the picking of a wrong corpse from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital's mortuary.

According to a source, as the body was lying in state on Thursday with grief-stricken members and other well wishers filing past it to pay their last respect, it got to a point when the chief mourners gave the signal for the body to be deposited in the coffin and sent to the cemetery for burial. It was at this point that the old lady, claiming to be the grandmother of the deceased shot up to her feet and walked towards the corpse. 'Her presence at the funeral might be God-sent', said a witness. For as if by sheer coincidence, not sooner had she got closer to the dead body than she froze and started behaving as if something had struck her.

Amidst loud shrieking cries, a few seconds later, she was heard shouting at the very top of her quavering voice that the body comfortably lying in state was not of her beloved granddaughter because of a strange physical defect she had detected. As if hell had broken loose, the family members reacted in a frenzy by rushing to the verify the old lady's claim that a teeth jutting out of the mouth of the deceased was enough proof that they had picked a wrong corpse from the mortuary.

Insisting desperately that there had been a case of mistaken identity, the remarks of the old lady amidst uncontrollable sobs, nearly created a panicky situation but she was later vindicated and the fully dressed human body ready for burial had to be sent back to the KATH mortuary where dramatically, a group of mourners complaining about a missing corpse was encountered.

Apparently, the corpse the Daban family picked for burial belonged to those they encountered. Quickly, it was handed over to the mortuary authorities after which the Daban family representatives went back to the mortuary to pick the body of their real kith and Kin to start a new process of its burial.