Durban-The ashes of drug mule Janice Linden were finally delivered to her family on Wednesday – three weeks after she was executed in China.
The ashes were in a plain brown cardboard box wrapped in masking tape with a DHL sticker, and the package was handed over to the family by members of the South African Police Service who had arrived in a small convoy at the modest Wentworth home.
“Look at this, they weren’t even decent enough to put her in an urn … she was somebody’s child,” said a tearful Nthando Mthalane, Linden’s nephew.
Authorities were accused initially of not doing enough to stop the execution and then for stalling the delivery of Linden’s ashes, both of which international relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said were out of their hands.
But on Wednesday the closure they were waiting for had finally arrived and now the family can go ahead with the funeral arrangements.
“We want to bury her ashes at the tombstone of her mother’s grave,” Mthalane said, although a date has not been set.
Mthalane’s mother, Priscilla, and Linden’s other sister, Nomalizo Mhlope, were allowed to visit her for 45 minutes just hours before she was executed.
The pair were not allowed to tell her that their mother had died earlier in the year or that she was going to die shortly.
A single candle burned next to the ashes and the family sang devotional songs in Xhosa as they looked over the only two items of clothing they still had of Linden’s: a denim skirt and top which seemed to be from her childhood.
Mthalane said they had hoped to receive the ashes before Christmas so that she could be buried by then.
“It has all just hit home now; we will never see her smiling face again,” he said.
Linden was convicted of smuggling three kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, or tik, in 2009 and had been on death row since then. She maintained her innocence throughout her trial.
Attempts to prevent the execution by various local and international groups were futile and many believe that the South African government did not do enough.
Monyela maintained, however, that there was nothing more anyone could have done.
“Other countries face a similar situation with their countrymen and -women in Chinese prisons. In China smuggling drugs brings with it the death penalty and that’s that,” he said.