Brian Jeptha says he was shocked when he was notified that his uncle had died in hospital on 16 November and was cremated by staff at the CPOA Lilyhaven Place in Bonteheuwel where he had been living for two decades.
According to Brian, his uncle, Edward Percy Jeptha, was mentally challenged and the home had failed to inform the family that his health had been deteriorating.
“My sister got a call to say my uncle had died and he was cremated. We went to the home (last) Monday to ask what was going on and why nobody informed us firstly of my uncle’s deterioration and now, against our wishes, the cremation,” he says.
“I spoke to a lady in the office who said to me that the undertakers had taken him and he was to be cremated.”
Brian says they managed to stop the cremation, but the family could not come up with R5000 for a “proper” burial.
He says the woman later called him back to say Edward’s “coffin was almost in the fire”.
“She asked if we had the R5000 and I told her we did not and she said they would then have to have him cremated.
“They told us a memorial service would be held for him and we were welcome to attend.
“We are not happy and wanted to bury him. This is unacceptable and we as a family feel robbed and hurt by Lilyhaven’s callous actions.”
But Sister Louise Nix, the nursing service manager at the Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA), says the family had not bothered to visit Edward in more than 13 years.
“According to the staff that have worked here for over 13 years, they have not seen or heard of any family of Mr. Percy. They thought that he had none.
“No one has ever come for big days, like birthdays or Christmas.
“At 6.20am on Friday, 15 November 2019, Vonette Damonse, the administrator at Lilyhaven Place, was informed that Mr. Percy had passed away at New Somerset Hospital.
“Since the time of his passing, the hospital tried to contact next-of-kin numerous times, but only got voicemail.”
Lilyhaven also supplied the Daily Voice with records, showing several attempts were made to contact Edward’s family over the years, but the calls always went to voicemail.
Damonse confirms that Brian contacted the home on 25 November.
“He said the family was upset that Mr. Percy was cremated.
“I said he is not yet cremated, but I can call to put a hold on the cremation for 24 hours as there was a backlog for cremations.
“I explained that Mr. Percy was covered for R1000 (for burial) hence the cremation, but if the family can contribute R5000, then he can have an earth burial.”
She says Brian called back and said we could “go ahead with the cremation because the family did not have R5000.”
“We then rearranged the cremation with the undertaker and also arranged a memorial service for him (the same day).
“He was our family,” Damonse said.