A medical debt has forced a Kenyan family to hold a “virtual” burial for its kindred who died of cancer.
The family of 13-year-old Brian Kimani did the unthinkable after a hospital in Kenya’s Kiambu County where Kimani died refused to release his remains over Sh13 million ($126,995.36) debt.
The virtual burial for Kimani who died from Leukemia in February was held Wednesday as his body lay in a mortuary. The family used a portrait of him instead, The Nation reports.
Authorities at the hospital where Kimani died defended the facility’s seizure of the deceased’s remains until the debts are completely cleared.
They accused the family of showing bad faith, stating that per the agreement they had the family scheduled to hold Kimani’s burial on Friday, March 13.
The Nation further reports that the two parties had also agreed that Kimani’s family informs the hospital a day before the burial with “a plan on how to make payments and collect the boy’s body—an agreement” that was breached.
“It is, therefore, surprising that anybody would claim that the hospital has refused to release the body. The hospital awaits the family for the meeting planned for Thursday, March 12,” it said in a statement.
“In line with professional practice and the recent court ruling on this matter, the hospital enters into agreement with the affected parents to secure the debt and allows the family to take the body for internment,” Dr. Thomas Ngwiri, Head of Clinical Services at Gertrude’s Hospital, added.
The move by the family sparked outrage among South Africans, especially on social media.
Videos of the incident showed two women removing the “body” from Old Mutual offices, back into a hearse, with one of them asking, “Had we not done this, when were they going to pay?”