Statement by the Leader of Government Business and MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, on the repatriation of the mortal remains of Ms Buhle Bhengu and visit to the Bhengu family Umlazi H Section, 11 March 2019

Greetings to the Members of the media, we thank you for coming to this short media briefing.

As you all know, over the past week and few days, the Bhengu family has been in mourning following the untimely death of Ms Buhle Bhengu.

Since this matter was brought to our attention, the KZN Government has been in constant contact with the national government.

We commend the Minister of International Relations and Co-operations, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, for facilitating government-to-government contact to ensure that the mortal remains are repatriated back 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.

The trauma that has been experienced by the family will take many years to heal but we hope that receiving the mortal remains of Buhle will assist in healing the broken hearts.

As the KZN government we will continue to offer our 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 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 and Cooperation, will provide logistical guidance. This will also be done in consultation with MSC Cruise South Africa.

This has been a long agonising wait to the Bhengu family. On behalf of KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government and the people of KwaZulu-Natal we have met with the family and expressed our deepest condolences.

No amount of words can express our deepest sympathies for the pain and irreparable loss of their beloved daughter who was a shining light.

We want to express our 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 mobilising 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.

We thank you.





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