PORT OF SPAIN – Officials of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation (SGRC) were forced to perform the first exhumation of a body in the region yesterday. However, the reason was an extraordinary one.
The move was initiated by the family of deceased Chanroutie Boodoo, who sought permission to exhume her body over fear that robbers had looted her grave to steal the heirloom jewellery she was buried with and her coffin, which was gold-plated.
Boodoo was buried on March 2 at the cemetery at Foster Road, Sangre Grande. She died in England on February 4.
However, since then relative had been receiving reports that several people had been seen around the gravesite in the early hours of the morning and on more than one occasion. As such, they feared her grave may have been dug up, her coffin tampered with and the items, worth thousands of dollars, stolen.
Armed with a licence for an exhumation, under the Burial Grounds Act. Chapter 30:50, Section 12, Boodoo’s husband Cornelus O’Donell, of England, sister Dassie Martin and niece Belinda Martin turned up at the cemetery yesterday on a fact-finding mission to ease their concerns.
They were accompanied by inspector Sawak Baran, police commissioners Bosland, Ali, Thomas and Deles, of Sangre Grande Municipal Police, chief medical officer health Rodell Mohammed, public health officer Nesha Manick, county superintendent Satnarine Singh, SGRC CEO Dianna
Lakhan and later on SGRC chairman Terry Rondon.
Cemetery keeper Jameel Joseph joined in to witness as gravediggers Wendell Samaroo, Junior Garcia began the exhumation process, as Joseph was keen to find out if such an act had been carried out on the property under his watch.
However, the gravediggers encountered water at the bottom and a sewage truck was called in to siphon out the muddy contents.
But when Boodoo’s coffin was taken out and its contents examined, everything was found to be intact. Relatives verified everything before the coffin was returned to its resting place and the grave filled back up with earth. Afterwards, Lakhan confirmed all the necessary documents were submitted and the cost paid by the family to conduct the exhumation, adding the licence was granted by rural development and local government minister Kazim Hosein.
She added that an exhumation was very unusual and interesting but was happy they were able to do everything to the satisfaction of Boodoo’s relatives and nothing was missing.
Rondon also told the T&T Guardian it was the first time he had heard of and witnessed an exhumation in the region.