Department says cost too high to return body of student Sibusiso Qongqo, 30, from Cuba
It has been more than a month that the Qongqo family has been hoping for the body of their son, student doctor Sibusiso from Ngqwarhu to be repatriated.
The young man died while studying medicine in Havana, Cuba.
Sibusiso, 30, who died of acute pancreatitis on April 29 while in his fifth year in Cuba, was last seen by his family in August 2018.
However, there seems to be a limited chance of the family getting the body of their son returned.
Department of health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said on national television that the plan was to bring Sibusiso back with the rest of the medical students in July.
But the MEC said the body would have to be cremated, which went against the family’s wishes.
According to Gomba bringing the body back to the Eastern Cape from Cuba would cost the department a hefty sum.
A letter written to the family by the MEC reads as follows: “For the body to be brought back, it will be embalmed at a cost of R169, 000, plus a daily rate of R940,50 for its storage which, when estimated on the six months possible length of storage/lockdown, could cost another R169,200.
“These cost estimates add up to R339,053 excluding transportation,” Gomba wrote.
Phiwokuhle, Sibusiso’s sister, said: “The family did not sign any papers for thebody to be cremated.
“The same way the department of health took my brother offshore is the same way we demand that he be returned.”
She said there had been little intervention and communication between the department and the family since the incident took place.
“The last time we heard from the department of health MEC was in a letter written on May 4,” she said.
“The letter was sent via email on May13. We want to know when they are planning to visit us.
“The family is in great pain and distress, my mother is not well.
“The fact that there were no efforts to visit our family has proven the little regard that the department of health has for us.
“We want someone who knows the law processes to intervene,” Phiwokuhle said.