Fight over dead body

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MASERU — A family dispute over who should bury a Mohale’s Hoek businessman spilled into the High Court this week.

As the row rages the body of Phoka Nts’eno, from Ha Thaba-Bosiu, who died on January 2, lies at the Lesotho Funeral Services mortuary awaiting the court’s decision.

His first wife, ‘Mathato Nts’eno, died in 2009 and at the time the two were already divorced.

Now ‘Makatleho Nts’eno, 25, who claims to have been Nts’eno’s wife until his death has filed an application against 10 respondents who include the deceased’s son from the first marriage, Thabelo Nts’eno and Ntomane Nts’eno, the deceased’s sibling.

Other respondents are Standard Bank (PTY) LTD, Master of the High Court, Lesotho Funeral Services, and the Traffic Commissioner of Transport, Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General.

The respondents are challenging the validity of ‘Makatleho’s marriage to the deceased.

They maintain that she has no right to bury the late businessman.

‘Makatleho told Justice Semapo Peete yesterday that she entered into in a customary marriage with Nts’eno in 2002.

“We eloped in December 2002 and my late husband took me to his place at Ha Thaba-Bosiu in Mohale’s Hoek,” ‘Makatleho said.

She also testified that the following day, Nts’eno took her to his sister’s home at Holy Cross where he ran a grinding mill.

‘Makatleho added that she was received by the deceased’s sister and a sheep was slaughtered to welcome her in accordance with Sesotho custom.

The deceased’s sister ‘Mats’eliso, she added, gave her the name ‘Makatleho.

There were men there too, although they were not from the Nts’eno family, she added.

‘Makatleho also produced documents to the effect that that her husband had paid seven head of cattle as dowry (lobola) to her father.

She said they stayed together as man and wife and had two children.

She argued that Nts’eno and his wife had already separated and divorced when she met him.

According to ‘Makatleho, at the time of the deceased’s death she had run to her parental home following a quarrel because she resented him for having an affair with their domestic worker.

The deceased, she said, threatened to stab her.

However, she stressed that when Nts’eno died she still regarded him as her husband.

She told the court that she has more right than Thabelo to bury him because he is her husband while he (Thabelo) is the son of the first wife.

The hearing continues today.

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