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Funeral parlours bribery storm: corpses lie-in-state amid Covid-19 explosion

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UNSCRUPULOUS employees at local funeral parlours are violating government regulations pertaining to the burial of Covid-19 casualties, working in connivance with families of the deceased, Zim Morning Post can reveal.

Responding to the upsurge of coronavirus deaths this year, government ordered that bodies should not be taken home and lie-in-state, for family members to pay their last respects as per tradition.

The order further mandated families to bury their loved ones in towns and cities where they die unless in special circumstances where the coffin has securing conditions attached to it.

However, investigations by Zim Morning Post established that an underground syndicate comprised of a web of funeral parlour employees and deceased’s families, have opened a back door.

“They are violating Government Covid-19 regulations. They charge US$60 and divert the route, passing through the deceased house where the body lies-in-state and family members pay their last respects,” explained our source who works as a florist selling his wares outside one of the big funeral parlours located along Herbert Chitepo Avenue in Harare

“Some families even insist on body viewing by close relatives thereby exposing them to coronavirus.”

This publication established that the well-knit syndicate involves morticians, drivers and undertakers.

Sometimes florists and videographers are used as fixers to sell the idea and market the ‘business’ to deceased family members outside the parlour.

“You know some members of our society are conservative and NOT willing to adapt to change.So they can’t afford to take their loved one straight from parlour to burial site.

“They do anything to have the body lie in state at the house, they say it’s called kusiya mumvuri in Shona,” explained one of the fixers.

“On a good day we can cash in at least US$300 for five bodies,” added the source.

Police roadblocks are not a major hindrance since burial orders will be legitimate, and almost all major roads that lead out of the central business district lead to a cemetery.

National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi could not be reached for comment at the time of writing Thursday night.

He has however vowed that police will take a tough stance on the movement of bodies wherein the deceased succumbed to Covid-19.

As at 21 January 2021, Zimbabwe had 30 047 confirmed cases, including 19 569 recoveries and 917 deaths

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has given rise to a lot of immoral practices as some citizens cash in on the crisis.

Reports of fake certificates and ‘social media doctors’ selling unsanctioned drugs like ivermectin and fake consumables are on the increase.

The Medicines Control Association of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has strongly advised members of the public, veterinary medicines general dealers and healthcare practitioners against the use of veterinary formulations of ivermectin injection in humans for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19, or any other health condition. – Zim Morning Post