South Africa

Dead SA woman in Greece: Family has no money to repatriate

Dead SA woman in Greece: Family has no money to repatriate
Johannesburg - The family of Sarah Masango are concerned that the costs of repatriating her body back home to KwaNdebele, Mpumalanga, will escalate the longer her remains stay in a morgue in Greece.

Masango died of TB on November 14 and it would cost her family R71 000 to bring her body back to South Africa as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has said it would not be able to pay for the mortuary storage bill and transportation because the deceased was not a government official.

The mortuary bill is believed to be rising daily.

“My sister was staying in Sunnyside, Pretoria, before leaving for Greece with her boyfriend in 2014,” explained Gilbert, the deceased’s brother.

He told how shocked the family was after receiving the news that Sarah had died.

“We got the information from the South African Embassy in Greece about her death, and we couldn’t believe it.

“What sunk us further into despair was the news that we had to pay for her body to come home,” he said.

The South African Embassy had notified the family that Masango was hospitalised on October 28, before she passed away about two weeks ago.

“I have been everywhere, looking for help from different government departments or everyone else willing to assist.

“I would just like to ask those who can to provide us with funds to help us bring her back,” said Gilbert.

The costs of repatriation are in Euros and include body storage fees, handling fees, transportation of the coffin, zinc protection, clothing material and a shipping container, among others.

Masango’s aunt Nomalanga said that her niece’s death had hurt the family deeply.

“We communicated with her frequently via text messages since she left South Africa.

“We hardly called each other, that was the only way we kept in touch,” she said.

“All we ask for is a bit of assistance.

“As a family we could only gather a certain amount of money and we just need anyone with the means to help us,” Nomalanga said.

She said the pain of her death still lingered and they did not even have time to mourn properly.

“I raised this girl, and now she is in a foreign land and we cannot even get the chance to bury her,” she said.

In a letter addressed to Gilbert, director-general of Dirco Yingisani Ngobeni expressed her condolences on the death of Masango and offered the department’s assistance if needed.

“Please be assured that this department will endeavour to provide you and your family with assistance and guidance where needed.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of bereavement,” said Ngobeni.

Dirco spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said: “Unfortunately, the government’s policy doesn’t allow any monetary assistance to any family, whose members are either in distress or have has passed away while outside of South Africa.”

He advised South Africans to visit the department’s website to check their consular services so as to understand what to do in cases where their family members pass away while abroad.