Durban – An uMlazi woman who died in the Bahamas could be cremated on Tuesday if attempts to bring her body back home fail.
Buhle Bhengu, 29, who worked for the international cruise company MSC, died early last month after she fell ill while the ship was at Nassau Bahamas.
She worked as a bartender and has been with the company for two years on an on-and-off contract basis.
Her family has tried to bring her body back to South Africa so they could give her a dignified funeral, with no success.
Her sister, Mbali Bhengu, 33, pleaded with government to help them bring her body back at home.
“We just want to see her body and have closure as the family. We want to give her a dignified burial like any other family would want,” said Bhengu.
She said the last time they had seen Mbali was in July before she went on the cruise.
“We were happy when she got the job, but now we are in pain. But the most painful thing will be for us not have a chance to bury her,” said Bhengu.
Bhengu said her two siblings, Thobani Bhengu and Nomkhosi Ngcobo flew to the Bahamas, with the help of MSC Cruises, in a bid to bring Buhle’s body back but were allegedly not given a chance to see her body, she said.
Instead, she said they were allegedly told that her body would be cremated in the Bahamas because a disease had led to her death and the infection could spread to others.
However, she said, they have never been told what disease her sister carried.
Bhengu said the health of her 68-year-old mother Nomusa had deteriorated and she had to be admitted in hospital after she was told that Buhle was going to be cremated.
“My mother is now sick. She is always crying. She wants to see Buhle’s body for the last time.”
She said Buhle had been well when she left and medical tests were done before her departure.
“If she was sick, they wouldn’t have allowed her to work. Her death is just mysterious. And no one is giving us answers on what led to her death,” said Bhengu.
An online campaign #BringBuhleHome was also gaining attention as social media users joined the family in pleading with the government to intervene and bring Buhle’s body home.
MSC Cruises South Africa managing director Ross Volk confirmed Buhle’s death.
He said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague who recently passed away and wish to express our deepest condolences to her family and friends,” said Volk.
Volk said he was unable to disclose any further details, “out of respect for the deceased and her family, and to honour her medical privacy”.
Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation Ndivhuwo Mabaya said the SA Embassy in Jamaica was attending to the incident.