Family feud  blocks burial

Family feud blocks burial

MASERU – FIVE months after his death, Hoohlo-Tšoeu Lechalaba’s body still lies in the mortuary as his family haggles over where he should be buried.
The 22-year-old Lechalaba died in March and his body has been lying in the Lesotho Funeral Services mortuary.
The body has however now decomposed beyond recognition as family members fight over where his funeral should be held.
At the centre of the fight are three sisters who are fighting over inheritance.
Nthatisi Lechalaba, his paternal grandmother and her twin-sister Nthati Lechalaba maintain that he should be buried at a property where they have been living and where he was born and raised.

Meanwhile, their sister Makhala Lechalaba, and her son Thabang Lechalaba have blocked their access to the property saying it does not belong to them.
The three sisters were married to one man, the late Maseru mogul Paul Lechalaba.
Even before Hlooho-Tšoeu’s death, the three sisters had been at each other’s throats over the inheritance of the properties and their case in the High Court has been postponed more than six times.
After Hlooho-Tšoeu’s death, Nthati and Nthatisi approached the court seeking an order to allow them access to the property for the purpose of the burial.
This case too got postponed at least four times.
This delayed dispensation of justice has brought grief and misery to the twin sisters.

On March 28, High Court judge Justice Molefi Makara ordered that the case be referred back to Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase for it to be assigned a specific judge because the merits of the case exceeded his parameters as the judge on call.
The court further ordered that if the matter was heard before Justice Makara, evidence would have to be led to ascertain the validity of marriages and legitimacy of the off-springs.
On April 1, 2019, a second court order was issued indicating that in respect of the enforcement of the orders and subject to the constitutional rights of the parties to housing, a gate through which the parties accessed their homes to the Lechalaba compound be re-opened.
“The parties are to obtain the hearing dates for finalisation of the right and duty to bury as the court intendeds to finalise this aspect before the week ends given the time the corpse had already spent at the mortuary,” reads the court order.
However, the case kept being postponed for hearing and witnesses to be called to testify before court.

Speaking to thepost last week, Nthatisi Lechalaba said she is bitter with the delays in handling the case.
She said all she wants now is to see her grandson buried.
She said all hell broke loose after Hlooho-Tšoeu’s death when some people declared that he was not part of the family and therefore should be buried at his mother’s place.
Nthatisi said both Hlooho-Tšoeu’s parents are dead.
“What’s surprising is that these people who today say this boy is not a member of the Lechalaba family are the ones who trained and taught him about our culture,” she said.
“They are doing this to hurt me and they have succeeded in doing so but I will never say it’s over until it is over,” Nthatisi said.
She said she has incurred expenses to transport witnesses to court and now she cannot do anything or go anywhere until her grandson is buried.

According to Sesotho culture, when a family member dies, a mother or wife of the deceased has to lie down on a mattress until the deceased is buried.
This is done in honour of the deceased.
Nthatisi said all she wants is justice so that she can finally give her grandson the honour he deserves.
“The manner in which this case has been delayed, makes me feel abandoned,” she said.

Itumeleng Khoete

 

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