Faces of Covid-19

'I was very close with my dad, and now he’s gone'

03 July 2020 - 12:22 By Jeff Wicks
Ntombe Khoadi lost her father to the coronavirus.
Ntombe Khoadi lost her father to the coronavirus.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

Isiah Kotsi’s quarantine from his family might have spared them Covid-19 infection, but his death and burial in Maboloka village, North West, has turned them into outcasts.

His daughter, Ntombe Khoadi, said they now carry the stigma of the coronavirus.

“People think we brought Covid-19 to the village because my father was buried there. Even though he was not there when he died, people are saying on social media that he brought the virus home. We are all living in fear,” she said.

But fear is outweighed by grief for those who Kotsi, a construction worker, left behind.

He collapsed while on his way to see his daughter after a happy phone call to tell her he had bought her a new pair of shoes.

“I was going to meet him in Hartbeespoort. Before I could get there, he collapsed and people called an ambulance which took him to hospital,” she said.

“I wish I could have seen him one last time. If I had met him I might have the virus, but because I didn’t see him, the phone call was the last time I ever spoke to my father.”

Kotsi died on May 11. He loved his church, and despite divorcing Khoadi’s mother a decade ago, the family remained tight-knit.

“He would call me often, sometimes at 5am, just so we could talk. I was very close with my dad, and now he’s gone. I couldn’t see him in hospital because he was in quarantine, and now I will never see him again,” Khoadi sobbed.

Kotsi was buried the day after he died because funeral parlours refused to store his body.

His grave is marked by a white cinder block.

Pictures of pallbearers in hazmat suits, hoods and gloves spread through the village.

“The pictures were on Facebook. They were also on WhatsApp. People were commenting that the virus was in the village now because he was buried at home. That is not true, but it doesn’t matter,” Khoadi said.