South African woman dead in Greece: Family cannot afford to repatriate body

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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 (over $7k AUD) 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.

“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,” 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.

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

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.

Sourced via The Star.

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