News24 Wire
Wire Service
2 minute read
5 Apr 2020
3:32 pm

81-year-old Bo-Kaap woman dies of Covid-19

News24 Wire

Kulsum Cassiem was being treated for pneumonia before she died and was buried early on Sunday.

Picture: iStock

An 81-year-old woman from Bo-Kaap, died after testing positive for Covid-19.

Kulsum Cassiem was being treated for pneumonia before she died and was buried early on Sunday.

“We don’t know how she got it. She was not one to go out a lot,” said Masturah Adams, leader of Bo-Kaap’s community response team.

Adams said Cassiem’s four sons were finding comfort in Islam and their belief that she has returned to God.

According to her sons, the 81-year-old had been feeling slightly ill and was admitted to hospital where she was diagnosed with pneumonia.

They said a subsequent test revealed she had also contracted Covid-19, which was known to complicate recoveries.

Adams said her family had not been able to visit her because of strict isolation protocols, but nurses were kind enough to allow phone calls.

She said the nurses would hold the telephone close, so she could speak to her family from her hospital bed.

“She was doing well, resting,” said Adams.

Adams said during their last conversation with her she sounded very calm, and there was even a light moment of laughter and shortly after, she closed her eyes and died.

She said her family was grieving, but also at peace with the help of their faith.

“I grew up four doors down from the Cassiem family and I remember their mother as a devout Muslim and a lovely, kind, person.

“She made the best samosas. We also used to eat her leftover samosa pastry when we were children – people call it papa bites now,” she said.

Adams said no vigil was held because of the lockdown

“Although accepting of her death, the Covid-19 protocols mean her family and friends could not perform many of the rituals that help bring peace and comfort. The community could not gather at her home to pray or hold a vigil,” she said.

Cassiem’s burial was undertaken at the Mowbray Cemetery in the early hours of Sunday, in line with new instructions on burials, and the guidelines of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).

Adams said the Bo-Kaap community response team was formed before the lockdown because the area was a favourite tourist stop.

She said although there was controversy over their early moves to protect the community from Covid-19, they were pleased it was done.

“The team is divided into various tasks: delivering food parcels for people who cannot go out, emotional support to people who are worried, and helping people who feel they have symptoms get early screening.

“This is being done through WhatsApp groups to limit physical contact,” she said.

Adams said she was looking forward to a visit by a Department of Health to screen residents in the area on Tuesday.

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