WALVIS BAY – The widow of retired diplomat Daniel Smith has branded the health ministry as unreasonable and unsympathetic towards the plight of families that are mourning their loved ones who have succumbed to Covid-19. Smith died in a Windhoek hospital on 13 September after some complications arising from Covid-19. He was initially hospitalised in a Swakopmund hospital before his condition deteriorated.
A frustrated Revival Smith told New Era that she was called and informed yesterday by officials from the health ministry who deal with Covid-19 burials that her husband would be buried today with or without her in Windhoek. This is against the wishes of the family who initially wanted him cremated and the remains transported to Swakopmund for burial on Sunday.
New Era understands the crematorium, which is owned by the City of Windhoek, is out of order at the moment.
“I already arranged through Nambob for the funeral in Swakopmund and was just waiting for my husband’s ashes. Mind you the crematorium is again out of order despite us being given assurance that we will have my husband’s ashes in time for the burial. The memorial service is supposed to take place on Saturday and the funeral on Sunday,” the aggrieved widow said.
The widow explained she chose to cremate her husband as she could not choose who could attend the funeral, as it is a burial under the Covid-19 regulations. “They told me only two people could attend and that is why I chose to cremate my husband so that all our children could say their final goodbyes,” she said.
The widow further claimed she was largely left in the dark following the death of her husband with no psychosocial support by the ministry, while she also bemoaned the lack of communication.
“We have not been counselled, nor were we tested despite them saying my husband tested positive for Covid-19 prior to his death. We did not receive any support from the ministry,” she fumed.
She also claimed no one has ever informed her that her husband tested positive. “We are still waiting for that call. No one also told us he was transferred to Windhoek. I found out from a doctor in Windhoek who was questioning my husband’s medical and lifestyle history that he was transferred to Windhoek. We could also not see him due to travel restrictions as we were in lockdown in Swakopmund where we spent 20 days in isolation,” she added.
“What the ministry is doing to our loved ones is not fair. I wanted to give my husband a proper burial, but they are denying me that now. They can bury him. I won’t because I will not throw him away like a dog. He was my husband and partner for 39 years and deserved better. All families and their loved ones deserve better.”
Approached for comment yesterday, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe could not comment on the issue as he was not in office. He referred the inquiry to his deputy Petronella Masabane who could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.
Daniel Smith is a former State House aide, who also served in various diplomatic posts between 2003 and 2013 when he retired from active government service.