Peter Wepener (striped shirt) with his family; Cathy, Kirsten, Toby, Harry and Timothy.
Peter Wepener (striped shirt) with his family; Cathy, Kirsten, Toby, Harry and Timothy.

Family tells of heartbreaking search for dad’s ashes looted during KZN unrest

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Jul 23, 2021

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Durban - A family is desperately trying to track down a wooden cabinet and an urn containing their loved one’s ashes stolen during last week's riots in KwaZulu-Natal.

Cathy Osmond said she was informed that her father, Peter Wepener's ashes and bequeathed antiques were due to arrive at the Port of Durban and were either stolen to burnt.

"The courier said the riots had caused catastrophic damage at their agent's depot, and they were trying to sort through the mess," Osmond said.

She said her father died in March after suffering a fall and fracturing his humerus just weeks earlier.

In an email to the family, the courier service said the items had been transported to its Durban branch from Johannesburg to be loaded into a groupage container. A representative from the company said the container was scheduled to load and the goods were in the Durban store when the unrest unfolded.

The courier's management travelled to Durban and were putting together a list of inventories. They promised to be in touch with the family.

Osmond said her father was 79 and had recently moved to the De Meerpaal Retirement home in Gauteng. He was looking forward to spending his winter years making new friends," she said.

Osmond said all her family had died over the years, and she immigrated to Australia.

"Australia has been on a strict Covid lockdown, and it made it impossible to fly over and sort out my father's affairs or collect his remains," she said.

She said she had nominated a reputable courier service to have her father's remains and bequeathed items sent to Perth where her sons live.

"We were hoping that when they arrived, we could get together and grieve our loss and celebrate dad's life. Dad's ashes were to be scattered in the Indian Ocean, just off Fremantle, between Africa and Australia. This would have had great meaning for us as a family, somewhere to reflect and raise a toast," she said.

The chest of drawers that was looted at a storehouse in KZN last week. Picture: SUPPLIED

The wooden urn containing Peter Wepener’s ashes. Picture: SUPPLIED

If anyone comes across the items, they are urged to contact their closest police station.

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