A distressing news story five months ago in the New Era, a prominent Namibian newspaper, reported how the managers of the mortuaries that serve the Ju/’hoansi people had allowed their facilities to fall into disrepair. As a result, the people had no way to care for the remains of their deceased friends and relatives until they could be buried except to drive the bodies great distances to functioning mortuaries.

A group of Ju/’hoansi near Tsumkwe
A group of Ju/’hoansi near Tsumkwe (Photo by Tous les Bonheurs du Monde on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

The Namibian, a different newspaper, reported last week that the situation has been resolved. The mortuaries in Tsumkwe and Gam, two of the important communities in the region, have both been repaired and reopened for business. Perhaps the publicity generated by the news story on April 2 (it was reviewed in this website nine days later) may have spurred the managers to fix the facilities.

The story prepared by the Namibian Press Agency last week quoted Likoro Masheshe, a resident of Tsumkwe, as saying that the mortuary in his town had been closed for five years. That caused a lot of hardship for people who had to care for the remains of the deceased due to the stress and costs of transporting bodies to the nearest functioning facilities, either in Mangetti Dune or Grootfontein. He told the reporter that the difficulty of transporting a deceased family member over gravel roads for such long distances was really upsetting.

The Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia
The Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia (Photo by mroszewski in Wikimedia, Creative Commons license)

The Namibian reporter also spoke with Canea Kudumo, who said more or less the same thing: how hard it was to travel such a great distance to deliver a loved one’s body to a mortuary, and then shortly thereafter, to drive out and bring the body back to be put to rest. He especially thanked the governor of the Otjozondjupa region, Otto Ipinge, for his support back in April when the issue was discussed.

Samuel Shilikomwenyo, the regional health director, said that the problem at the two mortuaries had been that the cooling systems had to be repaired because they were outdated. The repairs cost N$300,000 (US$20,000).