'I kept telling them to get the vaccine': Cape Town baby orphaned after parents die of Covid-19

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A Cape Town couple died after contracting Covid-19, leaving their six-month old baby girl without parents.
A Cape Town couple died after contracting Covid-19, leaving their six-month old baby girl without parents.
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  • A Manenberg couple leaves behind a 6-month old baby after dying from Covid-19.  
  • Rowena and Daniel Josephs died in their Wendy house while isolating after contracting the virus. 
  • Rowena's grieving mom said the couple had refused to get vaccinated because it was against their beliefs.

A Manenberg family is reeling after the sudden death of a young married couple who contracted Covid-19, leaving their six-month-old baby girl orphaned.

Rowena, 37, and Daniel Josephs, 40, died hours apart of each other last Thursday in their home in Renoster Road in the Cape Flats suburb.

They had been isolating in their Wendy house after Daniel told his wife he'd been in contact with some people at work who had come down with Covid-19.

ALSO READ | Grieving daughter furious about anti-vaxxer's voice note her mom fell for before dying of Covid-19

Speaking to News24, Rowena's heartbroken 68-year-old mother Geraldine Arends said she could not believe that she would never hear her daughter's voice again. 

"My heart is very sore. I have no words. This is not how it's supposed to be - a parent shouldn't be the one having to say goodbye to their children," an emotional Arends said.

According to Arends, Rowena first contracted Covid-19 last year, and survived. However this time around, she and her husband were not as lucky.

Both of them weren’t keen on getting the vaccination because they said it went against their beliefs, but I begged them to please reconsider getting the vaccine after my daughter first got the virus last year. I was angry with them in the beginning for telling me they are not going to take the vaccine because they don't have any guarantee it will work.

Arends added that the couple would have been out of isolation next week, and had promised her that they would get the vaccination then. 

"I kept telling them they must go to get the vaccine. I wish they had listened to me instead of taking my nagging and pleading so lighthearted. It breaks my heart knowing that their little girl will never get to know her parents," she added. 

Arends said her granddaughter would be staying with her as it's what the couple would have wanted.

READ | SA estimates 220 000 excess deaths during pandemic - among worst in the world

Daniel, a construction worker, celebrated his 40th birthday last month, and had lots of plans for his family’s future. 

Rowena had been unemployed since the beginning of the year.

"He wanted to move their family out of Manenberg and give their daughter the best life. He said, with his new job, he was going to save up and give his daughter the best one-year-old birthday party. He was a very proud dad," Arends added.

'Go get vaccinated'

Junaid van Boom, 45, who has worked with Daniel on construction sites for the past eight months, described him as a hard worker who always cracked a joke. He said:

When I heard the news that he and his wife are no longer alive, I went numb. I kept thinking about how their little girl won’t get to see them again. This virus has robbed us of genuinely amazing people in this world. It's very sad.

Van Boom said Daniel would speak every day about his little baby girl, and how she always smiled when he started singing for her after he came home from work.

WE REMEMBER | News24 pays tribute to those who have died of Covid-19

"They really were lovely people. My wife and Rowena became very close after their baby was born, and it's just heart-breaking to know the virus ended their lives so abruptly," he added.

Arends said, when she last spoke to her daughter two weeks ago, it was clear that they were making a good recovery as she was able to speak a bit longer without feeling out of breath.

"I’m going to miss them so much and I want people to know that this is how their story ends."

Adriaan Basson | Why I chose to be vaccinated

Others don't have to suffer the same fate.

"Go get vaccinated, speak to your children about getting the jab, if you can save a life do it. Covid is horrible, my granddaughter lost both her parents. I will never see my daughter and son-in-law again,” she said.

The funeral arrangements for the couple are still underway.

"It's a very sad time for us. As a mother I am broken. I don't know how I'm going to manage to look at my little grandchild and not shed any tears, but I will make it my life's duty to look after my only grandchild till my last breath," Arends vowed.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

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