Lawyers for Human Rights’ Wayne Ncube says international health regulations require that communicable or quarantine diseases should not spread from one country to another.
Speaking on Morning Live, he says it is very difficult to navigate a situation where a person is suspected of having died from a communicable disease in a foreign country.
This comes as a South African bartender, Buhle Bhengu, who worked on a cruise ship died recently after she fell ill while her ship was in the Bahamas.
The family has been trying for the last three weeks to get her body repatriated to South Africa.
The Bahamian Government, who diagnosed her death as TB, initially held Bhengu’s body from transport back home, then agreed to release it and then late on Tuesday said that she must be cremated in the Bahamas. Her relatives were told they have a day or two to get there, as the cremation has to be done within 3 days.
Ncube says TB is unfortunately classified as a communicable disease and as such each country has its ways in ensuring that diseases are not spread across borders.
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Meanwhile, Bhengu’s family has expressed their disappointment that her body will not be returning home for burial.
Speaking on Morning Live, Bhengu’s sister Mbali says the family has now agreed to the cremation.
“Now they’ve changed their story telling us that now they don’t have the necessary equipment to help protect other countries from whatever bacteria from spreading and they’ve also said now they don’t have the licence to help get the body through other countries to ensure them that the body was not contaminated.”
The Bhengu family from Umlazi in Durban is preparing to travel to the Bahamas to view the body before the cremation.
Mbali says as traditional people they need to prepare her body and bring her spirit back home.
“Right now we’re busy packing and the government is busy getting our paper work done, so we can leave tonight to the Bahamas to at least be there and get to see her and perform what we traditional people do when any one passes away. We will try and talk to her spirit and try to get it to come back home.”