Relief as Bahamas agrees to release body of SA cruise ship employee

Buhle Bhengu died in the Bahamas more than a month ago.
Buhle Bhengu died in the Bahamas more than a month ago.
Image: Supplied

The family of Buhle Bhengu, a former cruise ship employee who died in the Bahamas, is now battling to find a route to bring her back to South Africa after being able to stop her cremation.

Bhengu, 30, who hails from Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal, is believed to have fallen sick and died a month ago while she was working as a waitress on a Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) cruise ship in the island.

The Bahamas government wanted to cremate her body over concerns that her unexplained illness could be contagious.

The deceased‘s aunt Mbali Bhengu said the USA had refused to allow for her niece’s body to pass through their borders.

 “The USA has said no, they can’t allow her to pass through their borders and now we are trying to negotiate with the UK,” she said.

 Mbali said her family has still not been able to see her niece’s body.

 “We are not sure what has happened to her. When I spoke to her (before she died) using WhatsApp she told me she was hospitalised and diagnosed with anaemia. When the company called to tell us she was hospitalised they said she had stomach flu and then now we’re told she had TB,” she said.

Mbali said the family was aware that Buhle was sick and were expecting her to return home to recover. However she died days before her trip back home.

“She was in a lot of pain and even said she was not sure if she would be able to walk again,” she said.

 “She asked me to pray for her and I did.”

 Bhengu’s aunt said they were hopeful that the body would be returned now that they are being assisted by the department of international relations and co-operation.

Spokesperson for the department Ndivhuwo Mabaya said they are assisting the family to bring Bhengu home.

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