Cruise ship worker ‘died with broken neck’

NT HOMBISA “Nana” Mafuduka, died while on duty on the MSC Ochestra.

NT HOMBISA “Nana” Mafuduka, died while on duty on the MSC Ochestra.

Published Apr 24, 2022


Durban - THE family of a crew member who died on board the MSC Orchestra while on duty last month are angry and are demanding to know what really happened to her.

Hombisa “Nana” Mafuduka, 30, from Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, was found dead on March 24 while the cruise liner was returning to Durban from Mozambique. Details of a major head injury and her neck being broken have come to light. Mafuduka had left home in January to work for MSC Cruises.

Her aunt, Lulama “Lulu’’ Mafuduka, who had taken care of Nana and her three brothers since their mother died, said she was told that 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”. She said she found it strange that Nana had worked her normal shift that day and didn’t complain of any medical problem.

South Africa - KwaZulu-Natal - Durban.25/03/2022.Passengers boarding the MSC Cruiseliner at the Durban Harbour. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)

“She had called her cousin, Zimasa, just before 8pm, informing her that she was planning a birthday party for her 6-year-old daughter, which was set to take place on Saturday,” she said. However, on that Thursday night, at about 11pm, Mafuduka received a call from the company informing her that her niece had died.

“They then told me that the police were still investigating her death and that I would be called by police on the following day. I waited on Friday and didn't receive any call. I pleaded with the HR manager to give me the police contact numbers. “I asked to come to Durban since they had also said they were preparing to do an autopsy. I questioned why, and how was it being done without us, her family members? Apparently a ‘mysterious cousin’ had identified her body,” she said.

South Africa - KwaZulu-Natal - Durban.25/03/2022.MSC Cruiseliner at the Durban Harbour. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)

Mafuduka travelled from Lusikisiki to Durban at midnight on Friday.

“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. “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. “To this day as family, we are still left wondering as to what happened to Nana. MSC hasn’t given us answers,” she said.

MSC spokesperson Lebo Mavuso said since the tragedy the company had stayed in close and constant contact with the family and provided every support to them. “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.

“Our presence at the funeral was well received by the family and 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. Nana Mafuduka was laid to rest on April 9. SAPS’ Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Netshiunda said investigations were continuing.