'It’s as if your loved one is a leper': Ndileka Mandela on Covid-19 burials

17 July 2020 - 19:43 By Naledi Shange
Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Ndileka Mandela has shared how painful it was to bury her aunt while observing lockdown regulations.
Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Ndileka Mandela has shared how painful it was to bury her aunt while observing lockdown regulations.
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi/Sowetan/Gallo Images

After losing her aunt, Zindziswa Mandela, Ndileka Mandela has painted a painful picture of how people who die with Covid-19 are buried.

Ndileka took to her Facebook page as her aunt's funeral was under way on Friday and described hosting a burial for someone who had died with the virus as “brutal”.

It's as if your loved one is a leper, as if the fumes from the mortal remains can escape. 
Ndileka Mandela

“The pallbearers are dressed in full PPE from head to toe. The casket is in an enclosed casing inside the hearse. It's as if your loved one is a leper, as if the fumes from the mortal remains can escape,” Ndileka wrote.

Your loved one is wrapped in a plastic inside the casket, they can't be dressed in clothes you'd have wanted them to. The clothes are laid on top of their plastic encased mortal remains,” she said.

Ndileka said they understood that all of this was necessary, adding that the process had been explained to them. She also acknowledged the tough job of pallbearers, saying she had a newfound respect for them.

Adding further hurt to the experience was the fact that mourners had to maintain social distancing, in accordance with lockdown regulations.

“What makes it worse is that you can't even hug and console each other,” she said.

Ndileka Mandela shared the Mandela family's experience of holding a funeral for someone who had died from Covid-19.
Ndileka Mandela shared the Mandela family's experience of holding a funeral for someone who had died from Covid-19.
Image: Facebook / Ndileka Mandela

Since Zindzi's passing on Monday, Ndileka has openly shared her grief at the family's loss, sharing also how the coronavirus had led to them “meeting” and planning the funeral via online Zoom gatherings.

Ndileka had in an earlier post said she would not be attending the funeral because she herself was ill but took to social media, sharing her aunt's farewell.

She also spoke of the family not being allowed to have more than 50 people at the funeral.

“That a person who dearly loved people can just have 40 family members bury her, is in itself, testimony of this how this dreaded pandemic is now ruling our lives,” she said.

Zindzi's memorial service had also been hosted via Zoom on Thursday.

Zindzi Mandela died of Covid-19 related complications on Monday. She was 59.

She was one of two children that former president Nelson Mandela had with his second wife, struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Their other daughter is Zenani.


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