Mourners in the UK have gathered to pay tribute to a South African expat nurse – Josephine Manini Peter (55) – who passed away on 18 April from COVID-19 which she contracted in the line of duty.
A video, posted by political analyst and community development activist @somadodafikeni, shows the sad situation of a funeral under coronavirus as the solitary hearse passes by the mourners, clapping in honour for a woman who risked and lost her life trying to help others battling this disease.
Somadodafikeni tweeted: “Moving: Time to Say Goodbye to an SA nurse who died in UK & could not be repatriated due to current conditions. Fellow workers in UK arranged this tribute before cremation. My prayerful thoughts go to the bereaved family which could not do anything but receive messages & videos.”
A relative back home in SA said how painful it was, having to watch everything through Skype.
Manini moved to England 18 years ago, four years after graduating as a professional nurse from the University of Fore Hare and Cecilia Makiwane Hospital.
According to her friend, Cynthia Charles, who has started a crowdfunding page for her family, Manini planned to soon move back home to SA.
Cynthia said Manini’s last assignment was at Southport Hospital NHS Trust, until her untimely death.
“She had applied for a ticket back home before Covid-19 started and was ready to leave,” she said.
“She has a granddaughter and wanted to stop working and focus on family in South Africa.”
Cynthia said Manini got ill after nursing some Covid-19 patients during lockdown in the UK.
“It started off with mild symptoms and then she became very sick. She was in hospital for three days. The hospital discharged her and that very night she started to struggle to breathe and was turning blue. She was readmitted and that’s when she gave in,” she told reporters.
Manini leaves behind her husband Thabo Peter (in the UK too), her two children, Bongani and Buhle (who live in SA) and a grandaughter; as well as five sisters and a brother.
Cynthia said: “This came as a shock to us all. We loved her so much. We used to go out – she loved fun and definitely made a mark.”
Moving: Time to Say Goodbye to an SA nurse who died in UK & could not be repatriated due to current conditions.Fellow workers in UK arranged this tribute before cremation. My prayerful thoughts go to the bereaved family which could not do anything but receive messages & videos pic.twitter.com/b35aK0FYr5
— somadodafikeni (@somadodafikeni) May 1, 2020