Bhengu's mortal remains to return home

Monday, March 11, 2019

The mortal remains of Buhle Bhengu, 29, who died early last month while she was working for an international cruise company, will be repatriated to South Africa.

KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Sihle Zikalala has commended International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) Minister Lindiwe Sisulu for facilitating the process of repatriating the mortal remains of Bhengu from Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal.

She fell ill while the MSC ship was at Nassau Bahamas.

Attempts by the family to bring her body home were unsuccessful, and she was likely to be cremated on Tuesday.

Zikalala visited the Bhengu family on Monday to express deepest condolences and offer government support to the grief-stricken family.

Briefing the media, Zikalala said that since the matter was brought to the authorities’ attention, the KZN government has been in constant contact with the national government.

He commended Sisulu for facilitating government-to-government contact to ensure that Bhengu’s mortal remains are repatriated to KZN and handed over to the family. 

“As of this morning, we were informed by DIRCO that our High Commission in Kingston is liaising with authorities in Bahamas to ensure that the mortal remains are returned as opposed to cremation. We will continue to update the family once there is new information,” Zikalala said.

Zikalala said that the trauma that has been experienced by the family will take many years to heal, but they hope that receiving the mortal remains of Bhengu will assist in healing the broken hearts.

He said that the provincial government will continue to offer its support to the Bhengu family during this traumatic period. 

“We have resolved that the MEC for Social Development Weziwe Thusi and MEC for Health Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo should assign a team that will provide support to the family. Amongst the interventions is assigning social workers to provide, on a continuous basis, psycho-social services during this period of grief.

“The KZN Department of Health will also provide a plan to manage the return of the mortal remains in compliance with all health regulations. We will also work with SAPS.

“Most importantly, as the KZN government we know that the preparation of the mortal remains and other protocols associated with this work remains the biggest challenge. In this regard, the International Relations Unit in the Office of the Premier, as guided by the National Department of International Relations will provide logistical guidance. This will also be done in consultation with MSC Cruise South Africa,” Zikalala explained.

He expressed gratitude to the friends, neighbours, community leaders and ordinary members of society for offering support to the Bhengu family.

“We also commend members of the media and all social media enthusiasts who have been mobilizing the whole nation to rally behind the family. This is what is called Ubuntu, which is a cornerstone of our values as a South African nation.” –