It has been revealed that a 30-year-old South African woman working aboard MSC Orchestra during her current summer season in Durban, was found with a broken neck when her body was discovered aboard the ship last month.
Hombisa “Nana” Mafuduka was found dead on March 24th during the homeward leg of MSC Orchestra’s 3-day cruise to Mozambique. Her neck was broken and she had suffered a major head injury, according to IOL.
Mafuduka had left home in January to work for MSC Cruises and was nearing the end of her first contract with the cruise line at the time of her death.
Now, Mafuduka’s family are asking that MSC Cruises SA, the South African subsidiary of the larger cruise group, provide more support in finding out what happened to her on the night of March 24th.
The woman’s aunt, Lulama “Lulu’’ Mafuduka, who had taken care of Nana and her three brothers since their mother died, said the cruise line had initially suggested her niece’s death was due to natural causes.
She told IOL that MSC Cruises SA told her Nana had “vomited blood and was taken to hospital, resuscitated and on her way back collapsed and unfortunately passed away, making us believe it was a natural death”.
It was only after Lulu was given access to the body of her niece that she found out about the traumatic head injury, and that her neck had been broken.
According to Lulu, when she travelled to Durban to retrieve her niece’s body, the cruise line would not let her see the body.
“When I asked to see her body, they said I didn’t have permission and refused me access. The police came after, since I also refused to go back home without seeing her,” she said.
“I was told to come back on Monday and after a huge argument they allowed me to see her body. To my surprise and complete shock, I found the opposite of what was said. She had a major head injury and a broken neck,” she said.
Lulu said that to date there has still been no further clarity on what happened to Nana. “MSC hasn’t given us answers,” she said.
Lulu’s account has been disputed by MSC Cruises. A local spokesperson for the cruise line, Lebo Mavuso, says that company has been in close contact with the family and provided all the support it could.
“The events that led to this tragedy are under investigation by the police and we have co-operated with them throughout their investigation, and will continue to do so, in the hope that more light will be shone on the circumstances and cause of her untimely death,” said Mavuso.
Representatives of MSC Cruises SA also attended Nana’s funeral, which was held of April 9th, a gesture that Mavuso said was well-received by the family and local community.
“We continue to assist the family in whatever way we can, as we have already done in so many ways since the very beginning,” said Mavuso.
Timeline of events leading to Nana’s death
On March 24th, MSC Orchestra was on the final night of a 3-day cruise to Mozambique.
Just before 8pm, Nana called her cousin Zimasa to discuss a birthday party for her 6-year-old daughter, which was set to take place on Saturday.
Later that evening, there was a medical emergency announcement over the ship’s public address system, according to Crew Center. Medical staff went to help Nana, but could not save her.
At 11pm, Lulu was informed by MSC Cruises SA that Nana had vomited blood and was taken to the ship’s hospital, where she was resuscitated but later collapsed and passed away.
On March 25th, Lulu was told the police were investigating her death and that an autopsy would be carried out.
On March 26th, Lulu travelled to Durban to retrieve her niece’s body, but was informed a ‘ ‘ ‘cousin’ had already identified the body, which had been handed over to the police.