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Bahamian government agrees to release body of Durban woman

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After initially refusing, the Bahamian government has finally agreed to release the body of a Durban woman from Umlazi, Durban who died about 3 weeks ago.

29-year-old Buhle Bhengu worked as a bartender aboard the Mediterranean Shipping Company’s (MSC) cruise ship and fell ill while the ship was at Nassau, Bahamas. She was admitted into a local hospital, where she died about three weeks ago.

Initially, the Bahamian government refused to release the body, citing health hazards, but has since agreed to release it. The National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa (Nafupa SA) is currently in talks with several countries in a bid to bring Bhengu’s remains back to South Africa.


“There [is] no direct flight from the island to South Africa, so connecting flights are the only way to travel between the two countries. The dilemma we are sitting with now is that America refused that the body be flown through its borders. Now we are negotiating with Britain and hopefully the talks will have positive results. What this family has been put through is painful,” said Nafupa SA President Muzi Hlengwa.

Bhengu’s body faces possible cremation if attempts to bring her home by Tuesday, 12 March 2019, fail.

Mbali Bhengu, Buhle’s sister, says the family is finding it difficult to accept the situation. She says her sister had previously complained of body pains and tiredness. On 8 February 2019, a visit to the doctor revealed that Bhengu was anaemic and needed a blood transfusion. “How can they deny us the right to bury our child with dignity? We appeal to our government to intervene in this matter. Currently we are being assisted by the South African embassy in Kingston, Jamaica,” she said.

MSC Cruises South Africa managing director Ross Volk reportedly confirmed Bhengu’s death, saying they were saddened by the loss of a colleague.

Abenathi Gqomo
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