MSC Cruises has shown respect for local traditions and customs following the death of a South African female crew member aboard MSC Orchestra in Durban.
MSC Cruises has informed the woman’s family that they can come and collect the woman’s spirit from the cruise ship during any of her upcoming turnarounds in Durban.
MSC Orchestra will sail just two more roundtrip cruises from Durban, on May 4th and May 12th, before she repositions to the Mediterranean for the European summer.
On March 24, two months into her contract with MSC Cruises, Hombisa “Nana” Mafuduka, the mother of a six-year-old daughter from Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, was found dead aboard MSC Orchestra as she returned to Durban from Mozambique.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Nana remain shrouded in mystery and bewildering conflicting accounts of her movements on the night of her death.
While the circumstances of her death remain under investigation by the South African Police Service, the woman’s family have asked that they be allowed to board the ship and collect Nana’s spirit so that she can rest in peace.
Her aunt, Lulama “Lulu” Mafuduka, who has taken care of Nana’s daughter and her three brothers since their mother died, told the Daily News that the spirit of Hombisa had not rested well as her spirit was still wandering on the ship.
“As a family-owned company ourselves, we are deeply affected by the tragic death of our colleague Hombisa Mafuduka and have since the early days of this tragedy stayed in close and constant contact with her own family and provided every support to them,” said MSC Cruises SA managing director Ross Volk.
“The events that led to this tragedy are under investigation by the SAPS, 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,” he added.
Volk told local media that the cruise line had offered the family the opportunity to fetch Nana’s spirit before her burial, but they were unable to reach the ship before her next scheduled departure due to arrangements for the funeral.
“They were offered three times. However, they said they were busy with other aspects. They have been advised that they will always be welcome to have access to conduct the ceremony and collect her spirit,” he said.
Xhosa funeral rites
Nana was from South Africa’s Eastern Cape, home to the country’s Xhosa people. In Xhosa custom, funeral rites celebrate the individual’s connection with their family and their ancestral home.
When a Xhosa person dies, they are brought back to the place of their birth to be buried. To ensure that the spirit does not wander around in the afterlife, a family elder will talk to the body before the funeral as part of a tradition called ‘Thetha’.
This is done because, at the time of a recent death, the spirit is still considered to be held within the body, and therefore it must be talked through the process of entering the afterlife.
Family members will also speak with past ancestors to help the new spirit complete its journey to the afterlife.