The body of Nobuhle Bhengu, a former cruise ship employee who died in the Bahamas, will not be coming home and will be cremated instead, according to a family member.
Bhengu’s family is now crying foul play, saying that the Bahamanian government have been toying with them.
“It’s like they are trying to hide something,” Mbali Bhengu, her aunt told News24 on Tuesday.
Her niece was struck by a sudden illness, which is yet to be officially diagnosed.
The Bahamanian government say they will now cremate her body over concerns that her unexplained illness could be contagious.
Bhengu said she ascertained that her niece was hospitalised for anaemia when she previously spoke to her. She said her employer, MSC, cited stomach flu for her hospitalisation.
They were also told she could have had TB.
“We are not okay with this decision. They came out with many obstacles even while we are trying to bring the body back. It was just one thing after the other,” Bhengu said.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation welcomed the return of Buhle’s ashes as progress.
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said that family had travelled to the Bahamas to view the body and agreed for it to be cremated.
Bhengu however, said they were left with no choice but to agree.
“They [Bahamas] came up with many different excuses. In the end, they have finally managed to convince our government. If our government is convinced, then we are left with no one to fight for us. So, we agreed.”
By Tuesday afternoon, her family had received passports and were waiting on plane tickets to head out to the Caribbean to view their family member’s remains.
“She was our light. She was our everything. She was our breadwinner”
Sisulu extended gratitude to the Bhengu family “for their understanding that their daughter’s mortal remains could not be repatriated back to SA”.
She said this was due to international health standards to which both SA and the Bahamas subscribe.
Bhengu said the family were distraught at the decision.
“Right now, everyone is down. I even got sick now. We are just trying to get there to see her one last time. She was our light. She was our everything. She was our breadwinner. We have lost a big part of our family and this is making it harder.”