Family's plea to visit loved one's grave

Veliswa Jiya Islam died and was buried by her lover in Japan in September.
Veliswa Jiya Islam died and was buried by her lover in Japan in September.

A family is appealing for help to get to Japan to visit the grave of their 37-year-old daughter.

Veliswa Jiya Islam died in a hospital in Saitama, Japan, on September 20 following a long illness. The family could not afford to repatriate her body, causing her boyfriend from Bangladesh to bury her without their presence and consent. Now the Jiya family, from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, is desperate for funds to travel to the Asian country to visit her grave.

Veliswa's daughter Sivenathi Jiya, 22, said they have been trying to repatriate her body without success. She said her grandmother, Vuyelwa, 80, was not coping and has been in and out of hospital since her daughter's death and burial. "We understand that it might be a process to exhume her remains and bring her back to South Africa. All we want is to see her grave, maybe that will bring closure to my grandmother.

"She has not been the same since she received news of her daughter's passing," said the final-year journalism student.

Veliswa, who left for Japan with her boyfriend in April, got sick three weeks after she found herself a job.

"She was very excited and she would call every Sunday. At times, we would chat on WhatsApp. In May, she went to hospital thinking that she had flu, only to be told she had pneumonia. She had been hospitalised until she passed on," Jiya said.

Jiya said they had been in contact with the South African embassy and they had been very helpful, even visiting her mother in hospital.

"After she died, the hospital said they did not have public mortuaries, and that for a private place where they can keep her body we would have to pay R10,000.

"That is when the boyfriend decided to bury her without our consent. We no longer want to fight with the boyfriend but we just want to see her grave, which is why I pleaded with the presidency to make it possible for me, my brother and grandmother to fly to Japan," Jiya said.

She shared her grief on Twitter where she wrote: "I'm begging the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] and the whole country to help me [and] at least take my grandmother and brother to see where my mother was laid to rest as we could not afford to have her brought home."

Veliswa's sister Cengiwe Jiya, 44, said the pain was too deep for her and her family: "I am worried about our mother, she is not fine at all. I am very stressed, I have to deal with my mom's questions about her daughter's whereabouts."

Spokesperson for the department of international relations and cooperation Clayson Monyela said the government will explain to the family what it needs to do to bring her remains back home through consular assistance. Some Twitter users were sceptical about the post, citing that her account was new and this could all be a scam.

However, Sipho Mangesi, a well-known pilot, confirmed everything was true. "I have met with the family in an attempt to arrange flights for them and can therefore vouch and confirm the credibility of this post."

Those willing to assist the family can DM Jiya @JiyaSivenathi on Twitter

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