The High Court has dismissed an application by Yolanda Kuvaoga seeking cancellation of a burial order for her late daughter, fitness trainer and model Michell “Moana” Amuli, paving way for the father, Ishmael, to proceed and bury her daughter at Warren Hills cemetery today.
Family spokesperson, Yussuf Binali has confirmed that the late model will now be buried today.
Moana died in a horrific accident three weeks ago that also claimed the lives of socialite Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure, Malawian businessman Limumba Karim and Mozambican model Alicha Adams.
While Ginimbi was buried two weeks ago, Moana’s burial has been delayed by endless feuds between her parents who are on separation.
Kuvaoga had approached the High Court seeking to bar Ishmael the right to bury Moana according to his Muslim religion, claiming she raised the model and wanted her to be buried against the father’s religion.
She wanted to host the funeral on the basis that Moana’s father is Muslim and would not allow mourners to imbibe and consume pork at a funeral.
But Justice Pisirayi Kwenda, in his detailed judgment, castigated Kuvaoga for over emphasising her late daughter’s secular habits on a mistaken belief that it gave her an elevated social standing in her last days.
“The validity of the burial order in first respondent’s (Ishmael Amuli) possession designating Warren Hills as the deceased’s final resting place has been confirmed by this court and the second respondent (Registrar of Births and Deaths) cannot validly issue another burial order,” Justice Kwenda said.
“…A court of law may not be called upon to determine a dispute about whether or not mourners should be allowed to imbibe and consume pork at a funeral.
“The relevance of what the applicant (Yolanda Kuvaoga) says was the deceased’s worldly lifestyle and her alleged celebrity status to the rites to be followed at her burial is difficult to fathom. I do not have evidence before me of what the applicant says was the deceased’s celebrity status.”
The judge added: “It appears to me that the applicant does not appreciate the possible implications of over emphasising the deceased’s secular habits which she believes gave her an elevated social standing in her last days because she could be basking in the grandeur of the perceived status.”
The judge further said Kuvaoga’s oral evidence before the court had no relevance to the relief she was seeking before the court adding she submitted that, because her former husband did not pay lobola for her, according to custom and tradition, mourners should gather at her parents’ home in Highfield for the funeral.
“That is not the relief she seeks,” the judge said.
“In any event that has not been resisted by the first respondent. He paid a customary price to his in-laws for the funeral wake at applicants’ parents’ house.
“On the other hand, it is correct that the deceased was born to the Amuli family. The right to family is fundamental and protected in our Chapter 4 Bill of Rights. It is a constitutional value that may not be taken lightly.
“It is to be expected that the deceased identified with the values traditions and customs of her family. I have no doubt religious beliefs are included in a custom.”
The judge also called upon the government to revisit the Burial and Cremation Act saying it has no provision that deals with resolution of burial disputes.
The judge further said Amuli stated under oath that he does not intend to exclude anyone from the funeral and as such, the court had no reason to disbelieve him.
“It means mourners are already gathered there. Applicant did not place any evidence before me which shows that first respondent has disrupted the mourners or imposed any restrictions on them,” he ruled.