Family demands answers after relative’s body is exhumed
Arlene Reid fought to hold back the tears as she told our news team that her mother’s body was exhumed last Friday and buried somewhere in the May Pen Cemetery.
She said that after her mother died late last year, she said that she went to the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSMAC) to get advice on what should be done for the body to be buried on her mother’s land in Westphalia in Mavis Bank, St Andrew.
“The KSMAC said they wanted a letter to show that my mother owns the land that we wanted to bury her on and that we should pay $6,500 for the cemetery fee, which we did,” she said.
“On the 11th of last December when we did the grave digging, someone from KSMAC came and said that we should not dig the grave so close to the road, and we pointed to a place where we could do it, and he said yes, we can bury her there.”
Reid’s mother, Ester Edwards, was buried on December 19, and the family thought everything was OK.
However, on February 5, the family was served with a notice from the KSMAC,telling them that the body of their mother would bebe exhumed because it had been buried illegally.
“This serves to advise that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, in collaboration with the Kingston and St Andrew Public Health Department, hereby notifies you of the impending exhumation of the remains of your deceased relative, which was interred in December 2018,” the letter said.
Confused by the letter, Reid went to KSMAC. She said that she was told that she was not given permission to bury their mother on the property as the burial spot sits on top of the water supply for a school.
“I didn’t know anything about this, and I went to them for information. If they had given me all the information, I could have buried my mother at Meadowrest because that was our second option. Also, if they did not give us the go-ahead, who came to our house saying they were from KSMAC and told us where to dig the grave?” she questioned.
With tears rolling down her face, Reid explained that last Friday, some men came to her home and proceeded to exhume her mother’s body. She said the men did not show any identification and were reluctant to state their names.
“I had to get mad at them and ask them where they are from, and that is when they started to call names. I don’t even know if these are the correct names,” she said.
Reid said that after the body was exhumed, it was taken to a funeral home. However, when she went to the funeral home at approximately 11 a.m. last Friday, she was told that her mother’s body was buried at the May Pen Cemetery.
“Our lawyer called the funeral home and told them not to bury her before we get to them, because we did not want her to be buried again, we wanted her to be cremated. When he called them back, they are going to tell him that she is already buried in May Pen Cemetery. We don’t even know where our mother is, and we want to know where she is,” Reid said, crying.
Fuming, Reid said that she went to KSMAC but was told that no one in authority was available to speak with her on the matter.
“A the mercy a God mek mi fadda nuh drop dung this morning when dem a dig her up, and her grandson is so traumatised. This morning (last Friday), dem have the four-year-old a bawl and a ask where they going with his grandma, and no one would answer him. Dem come a wi yaad at 6:30 this morning and a dig her up. Dem do that in front of us and never have the decency to wait on us to choose what to do with her. Mi want my mother. We need to know where she is buried, that a if they buried her,” she said.