EXCLUSIVE | 'Like her family, we too want answers' - MSC on SA worker who died on cruise ship

Hombisa Mafuduka. (Facebook)
Hombisa Mafuduka. (Facebook)

  • MSC Cruises SA say they are seeking answers following the death of a young Eastern Cape woman on one of its cruise ships.
  • Hombisa Nana Mafuduka, 31, worked for MSC Cruises SA and was reported dead on 24 March.
  • MSC Cruises SA told News24 they were cooperating with authorities and was also providing assistance to the family. 

Global cruise line company, MSC Cruises, say they are searching for answers following the death of an employee, an Eastern Cape woman, on one of its cruise ships in March. 

Hombisa Nana Mafuduka, 31, was reported dead on 24 March. According to her family, Mafuduka had vomited up blood and had collapsed.

The family was later told that she died after a watertight door squeezed her. 

Her family said previously that they suspected foul play. 

In an exclusive detailed response to News24's questions this week, senior management at MSC Cruises South Africa said they had assisted Mafuduka's family following her death. 

"We want clarity on what happened as much as everyone else, including, of course, Hombisa's own family. This has been our stance from day one. We have cooperated, naturally and to this end, to provide the police with all of the necessary information that they seek to aid their investigation," it said. 

READ | 'We screamed to get attention' - SA family seeks answers after woman's death on cruise ship

Senior management added that they understood the family was upset and hurt.

"At the same time, it is somewhat disheartening to see incorrect rumour, innuendo and speculation being aired in the public domain about this awful tragedy and us being directly accused of not being transparent," it said.

Mafuduka had been working in the ship's kitchen for two cruise sailing seasons, which typically ran from November to April when they had a ship based in South Africa.

"We said to the family on that awful occasion that we did not understand the reasons for her death and that a full investigation would be conducted by the police," senior management said. 

Her family further alleged that the autopsy was conducted without the family's consent.

MSC senior management told News24 that once her body was handed over to authorities, the company had acted in good faith, although they were not responsible for the sequence of subsequent events.

"The state performed the autopsy and then released the body to the family. The results of the autopsy are with the police, and we have helped the family to make contact with the investigating officer. We also helped the family with costs for returning Hombisa's body to Lusikisiki for the funeral.

"We, as much as her family, want to get to the bottom of this," they said. 

Before she died, Mafuduka was planning her daughter's sixth birthday, which was two days before her death, her family said. Her family described her as a "bubbly" person who loved to dance.

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