CANADA: Family demands answers from airline as woman dies after taking flight to Zim
Toronto City News
Fighting back tears in the living room of his Toronto home, Gordin Mapika recalls the evening of July 4, mainly the regrets he has, wishing he had said more to his wife of more than 40 years when he dropped her off at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
What he did not know at the time was it would be the last time he saw her alive.
His wife, Ketty Shonga, 58 and a Canadian citizen, was taking a trip back to her birth country of Zimbabwe, something she has done alone several times before. The flight, operated by United Airlines, was long with multiple connections through Chicago, Newark and Johannesburg, South Africa.
According to her flight records, she was scheduled to arrive in Zimbabwe on July 6.
“She never called or texted,” Mapika said. Which was strange, he told CityNews as she would always check in with family after she arrived.
“We thought ‘Why is she not communicating?’” added family member Isabel Murambiwa. “Could it be a power outage in Zimbabwe because there have been electrical problems there or could it be maybe she traveled out of the city where there is no network? We did not know.”
Shonga’s daughter then reached out to United Airlines via an online chat forum. According to screen grabs taken by the family of that conversation, the representative who responded confirmed Shonga took flight UA188 from Newark on July 5 and arrived at the O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg at 7:05 p.m. the next day.
But Shonga was supposed to take a connection flight from O.R. Tambo to Zimbabwe.
“So, at this point we assumed she did but after not hearing from her for several days we became incredibly worried,” Murambiwa said.
On July 12, seven days after Shonga originally departed Toronto, with still no communication from her, Mapika reached out to a family member who lives in South Africa. He said his nephew went to the O.R. Tambo airport to get answers.
The news wasn’t good. “That’s where he discovered she passed on,” shared Mapika.
In shock, Mapika immediately booked a flight to travel to Johannesburg where her body was being held. He discovered an autopsy had been performed, showing her death was due to a pulmonary embolism.