At least 15 young men in the Avenue Community in Schieffelin Town, located along the major highway leading to the Roberts International Airport (RIA), on the evening of Sunday, August 31, dug up the casket bearing the remains of a dead woman.
The youths were reportedly reacting angrily to the burial suspected Ebola patient in their community.
Speaking to the Observer in an exclusive interview on Monday, September 1, the Avenue Community chairman, Mr. G. Richmon Kanean, said on Saturday, August 30th, a soldier of the Armed Forces of Liberia, only identified as Hinneh, went to see him around 11 a.m. to ask for a burial plot. According to him, the officer had told him that his (officer’s) mother had died from hypertension or high blood pressure in the Duport Road Community.
“When he told me, I sent them to the Commissioner’s Office in Schieffelin Town because the government had told us not to bury anyone without a death certificate certifying that the person did not die of Ebola,” he added.
Chairman Kanean further stated that to his utmost surprise, one of his community members later called, accusing him of having connived with some people who had dug a grave and placed an empty coffin by it since morning, waiting for their dead body to come and be placed in it for burial.
“When he told me that, I immediately proceeded there. I was told that the casket had been there by the dug hole since midday and that the body had arrived by around 8:45 p.m.” He further stated that when he got there, the vehicle that transports Ebola bodies to the crematorium (a few feet away from his community), was there along with the police car, marked 1105, which usually escorts it.
“Those who were on the scene when the police car and the other cars came, told me when I got there, that they had already removed the body, which was wrapped in the Ebola body plastic, put it in the casket, closed it and had it in the grave they dug earlier in the day. They were even covering the hole. I got vexed with the young people who were around because I had told them [earlier that day] that when the body comes, it should not be buried without them producing a certificate.”
He said as he walked away from there, the young men began to accuse him that he had taken money from the people to bring Ebola into their community.
“By 10:45 p.m., I got a call from a police officer in this community that the youth were digging up the casket from the grave. By 11 p.m. again, he called me: ‘Richmon, those boys dug the casket from the grave and have placed it in the middle of the road.’”
He said he had advised everyone not to come into contact with any of those who dug the coffin from the grave because if the lady had actually died from Ebola, it is possible that those who dug the coffin from the grave might have contracted the virus.
The central police headquarters could not be reached for comment as mobile phones rang endlessly. However, a police officer in the Avenue Community corroborated Chairman Kanean’s assertions to the Observer.
Some of the commuters driving past the casket were heard asking, among other comments, “How will Ebola leave Liberia, when stupid young people are playing with things that are clearly marked ‘Ebola’?”