The Maseru City Council (MCC) this week exhumed the body of 80-year-old Adelina Tau from a Motimposo church backyard where it had been buried for the past two weeks, arguing its interment posed serious health hazards to the surrounding community.
After the exhumation on Tuesday, the body was reburied at the Lepereng cemetery, with the MCC bearing the costs of the whole exercise.
According to the MCC Public Relations Officer, Lintle Moerane, Ms Tau was not supposed to be buried in the Zion Apostolic Faith Mission Church premises as it was against the country’s bylaws.
“The body was buried on the church premises on 31 May, in contravention of the Lesotho Land Act of 2010 and Public Health Order Number 1970.
“This land is not supposed to be used as a cemetery but to build a church, and when one applies for a lease, he or she has to specify how the land is going to be utilised.
That is why we cannot have a church and graveyard in the same yard,” Ms Moerane told the Lesotho Times.
“It is not healthy for a graveyard to be located so close to people’s homes because when it rains, the water flows from the graves to the houses, which is not hygienic and a potential health hazard.”
Ms Moerane said the MCC had objected to Ms Tau’s burial, but some members of the church had ignored the directive.
“What happened was a member of the family came to report the death of Ms Tau, and even said some church-members were planning to bury her here.
“We objected to this, and after the family member had paid for her burial at Lepereng, we thought the issue had been resolved.
“But we later heard despite the objection and the allocation of a grave at Lepereng, she was still buried at the same site we had objected to in the first place.
“We then went to the courts and were given permission to dig-up the body and bury it in the right place,” Ms Moerane said.
Ms Moerane further revealed the MCC had five cases pending in the courts, which were almost similar to that of Ms Tau.
Tefo Lion, who said he knew Ms Tau as she had once been looked after by his parents, said he was happy the issue had been resolved quickly.
“She asked my parents to be her spiritual parents and was living on the church premises.
“After her death, I went to the Chief of Ha-Tšui, who directed me to the MCC. I was then allocated a place where I was to bury Tau at Lepereng.
“When I arrived home from Lepereng where I had already dug a grave for Tau, I found other members of the church at the house, who told me they had agreed that she was going to be buried here (church premises) and not Lepereng,” Lion said.
“My son was so angry that he even wanted to fight them, but I told him to let go since those people did not know what they were doing.
“The same people even chased away an MCC worker when he was here to observe what was happening. They told him they were not related to him, and were going to bury the body of Tau near the church.”
Mr Lion said the site where the church was built, and Ms Tau had been buried, belongs to him.
“My father left this land to me when he passed away, and I am happy the body has been moved to Lepereng.”