What are the legal requirements in South Africa for foreigners handling the death of a loved one?…

Jeff in 2015, at a private chateau in France where Connie performed services as a professional chef.

If this headline makes no sense to you, please read yesterday’s post when we described the sad loss of our friend Jeff who came to stay with us in Marloth Park with his beloved wife, Connie, and their daughter Lindsey, to finally fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing the wildlife in Africa. Please read yesterday’s post here.

We are all still reeling from the sorrowful experience, but somehow manage to spend quality time together in the bush until they depart next Friday to return to the US with Jeff’s ashes. There won’t be a memorial service in South Africa, but it will be arranged when they return to the US to include their family and friends.

So here’s the story of what transpired from a legal perspective when our dear friend Jeff passed away during the night and was discovered on Wednesday morning on September 21st, only four days ago as of today, Sunday, September 25, 2022.

Once Connie and Tom determined that Jeff didn’t have a pulse, we first notified Louise and Danie, who immediately got to work to figure out the process. They had never lost a guest in one of their properties or a loved one while living in Marloth Park.

Within about 10 minutes, vehicles started entering our driveway, from honorary rangers to local officials and police to local EMTs. Our friend Patty Pan, an honorary ranger, arrived and was a great comfort to Connie, Lindsey, Tom, and me. Everyone was so respectful and kind with their words and attentiveness.

The flurry of activity kept us all busy during those difficult first few hours. Connie and Lindsey had endless questions to answer and documents to provide regarding Jeff’s medical history to ensure there had been no “foul play” in his passing. A wonderful local policeman, Dan, who lives a few blocks from us and over the next 24 hours, provided endless support in the process.

When the mortician arrived, and Jeff was carried away, an additionally heartbreaking moment in this process, the following steps required to fulfill the process necessary in South Africa for foreigners passing away while in the country were described to us in detail. At the time, remembering everything was challenging due to our emotional state.

Thank goodness for policeman Dan. He arrived at 8:00 am the following day He not only walked us through the entire process but he drove his police vehicle with the flashers on and advised us to do the same as we followed behind him while we drove for over an hour to the distant town of Tonga, where we’d go through the following process to meet the legal requirements of South Africa. Dan escorted us while the mortician helped Connie at each of the following locations, ensuring she always was able to get to the front of the queue:

  1. Doctor’s office: to obtain the official certificate of death (including the cause of death) – time for the entire process -60 minutes
  2. Police station: to complete forms such as an “application for cremation,” – time for the entire process – 20 minutes
  3. Home Affairs Office: an unabridged death certificate was issued – time for the entire process – 30 minutes
  4. Mortician’s Office: to discuss the cost of cremation, select an appropriate coffin for cremation and settle on financial matters. At first, an expensive coffin was suggested which made no sense. After negotiation (expected in South Africa), Connie settled on a logical and respectful coffin, and we were on our way. To our surprise, the funeral home did not accept a credit card, and the only payment method was through ETF, a bank transfer that was accomplished within 24 – 60 minutes.

Dan stayed with us through the entire above process, making suggestions and answering questions each step of the way. The mortician, as mentioned above, attended each of the above steps with Connie and was able to speed the process along. The entire process took about three hours plus about two hours driving time, for a total of about five hours.

The cremation is planned for Tuesday morning and the mortician will deliver the ashes  to Marloth Park in a TSA (airline security) approved container. Connie will carry the ashes as a carry-on.

The entire cost for the cremation, coffin, and other services was under US $2000, ZAR 35852.

For additional information, please click here at the South Africa Home Affair website.

Please feel free to ask any questions using our comments section at the bottom of the post.

We’ll continue to share details as the process progresses over the next few days.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 25, 2021:

We made two large pans of apple crisp and one smaller pan. We’ll bring one large pan to Kathy and Don’s tonight and keep one large and small pan at home. For more photos, please click here.