Cemetery staff installed the wrong headstone on the grave of Jima Kiir, even though the headstone’s photo did not match with the photo placed on the grave. (Submitted photo)

Cemetery staff installed the wrong headstone on the grave of Jima Kiir, even though the headstone’s photo did not match with the photo placed on the grave. (Submitted photo)

Abbotsford mother upset city placed wrong headstone on son’s grave

Cemetery staff mix up graves of 2 recently deceased men from South Sudanese community

An Abbotsford mother is upset that the city placed the wrong headstone on her recently deceased son’s grave.

Rabecca Majok said she found out about the mistake after a friend visited Hazelwood Cemetery and sent her a photo of the grave plot two weeks ago.

“I don’t want anybody to get fired. I just want people to know that this is unacceptable,” said Majok. “This mistake should never happen.”

Her son, Jima Kiir, died in October 2020 and she has not had a headstone installed yet on his grave, but a picture of him and flowers were laid down.

Another man who died in December 2020 had his headstone, which features a photo, placed on Kiir’s grave. Both of the deceased men are from the city’s South Sudanese community, and their families know each other.

“The headstone that they were putting on the (grave) had a picture on the stone, so I don’t see how they could mix that up,” Majok said. “How could you miss that?”

She said she called the city, but struggled getting through and turned to the funeral director who had assisted in burying her son.

The director said he went to the gravesite, confirmed the mistake and made calls to the city. It was fixed shortly afterwards.

“I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years,” the director said. “I can’t say I have experienced that before.”

He said he asked the city if they would make any financial considerations due to the mistake, and the city said it’s not something they can do.

Majok said she was offered a free flower vase and an apology from a regular employee – but no apology from anyone in management.

She said she’s not looking for any handouts, only some assurance this won’t happen to any other grieving families.

“You can’t make that kind of mistake and then pretend like it isn’t a big deal,” Majok said. “Maybe somebody else has gone through the same thing.”

A senior city staff member contacted Majok on April 9 to apologize, after The News inquired about the mistake.

“(We) have offered our sincere apologies for what was an unfortunate error on our part,” a city spokesperson said by email.

“It’s a little late for that,” Majok said.

RELATED: Dozens have died as Abbotsford’s overdose crisis has worsened during pandemic

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