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‘We wanted to bury our baby’

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TAATI NIILENGE and ADAM HARTMANN

A WALVIS Bay couple was left in shock and disappointment after the Ministry of Health and Social Services told them the remains of their baby were cremated without their consent.

Sandra Ndjao (25), gave birth prematurely to twin girls on 8 August 2021 at the Walvis Bay State Hospital.

The babies were born at six months and one of them died the same day. Ndjao and the father of the babies, Joseph Kanganjera, gave permission to the hospital to cremate the baby and the baby was cremated on 9 August.

The other twin lived for five days and also died. Her parents decided to bury her since the mother had already spent time with her and they had bonded.

The family made preparations for the burial, and arranged with the mortuary assistant to collect the body on Monday.

“We were shocked on Monday when we were called by the mortuary assistant, Anastasia Casta, that our baby had already been cremated.

“My boyfriend was told that I gave my consent for the baby to be cremated. I never received that call, nor did I sign any papers authorising that.

“They later changed and said it was not me they had called, but another woman, whose baby also passed away. They asked us to meet them at the hospital so that they could see whether they could refund us. This is not about money. That was my baby. I am hurt. I wanted to bury my baby,” said Ndjao.

The family attended the meeting with the hospital staff the following day, and were disappointed to hear many contradicting explanations.

“We were told that Casta is a mortuary assistant who is only employed on contract and that her contract will expire soon. Casta herself said that she was on leave and returned on Monday, without knowledge that the second twin had in the meantime passed away.

“She said she handled the paperwork, thinking that it belonged to the first baby. There were just too many confusing explanations,” said a distraught Ndjao.

She said she was especially disappointed at the way the hospital staff treated the family, especially as they were already in shock.

“They kept telling my family to leave the meeting, and that they only wanted me and my boyfriend around. They then told us not to listen to our friends and family, as they will just confuse us. How will they confuse us, if we all know that it was wrong? They kept giving excuses we cannot understand,” said Ndjao.

The Erongo regional health director told The Namibian through a text message that the ministry was already busy engaging with the family but by the time of going to print, Ndjao said the health director had not contacted her.

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