On Monday, a handful of community members together with sponsors and sympathisers gathered at the Epako Cemetery to lay to rest 10 baby bodies which have been abandoned in the state hospital.
The bodies accumulated from macerated stillbirth, fresh stillbirth, and premature and miscarried babies from May 2021 to mid-July 2022.
According to the senior mortuary assistant at the Gobabis State Hospital, Nelson Katjinaani, some of the bodies buried were of babies who in normal circumstances would have been incinerated.
He says the regional incinerator has no capacity to incinerate a number of bodies, hence the option to bury.
Katjinaani says although some parents gave the State consent to bury their babies because they cannot afford the financial burden, others disappeared without leaving contact details and could also not be traced either through the local clinics or the community health extension workers.
Elwin Gariseb, who spoke on behalf of the community, while urging businesses to help where a need arises, implored the people to call for help.
Gariseb said it is painful and unacceptable to see a pauper’s burial and to hear that the bodies stayed for so long in the mortuary. He urges the community to hold hands and bury people in a dignified manner like everybody else
Hannes Engelbrecht, a manager at Toyota Gobabis, said the news came as a shock to them and they instantly knew that they had to do something not only to ensure a befitting burial for the deceased but to further instil a positive attitude amongst the Omaheke people.
“It is people, who could not bury themselves; and it is why we decided to offer three caskets which were used to bury all the bodies in a mass grave,” echoes Engelbrecht.
Quality Memorial Services in Gobabis donated a tombstone worth around N$15 000 and it will be erected on Wednesday.
* Julia Kamarenga works for MICT OmahekeC