City of Cape Town's appeal for cremations over burials causes ire
Cape Town - Traditional leaders and communities are upset after the City encouraged Capetonians to consider other alternatives to burial of their loved ones.
Community services and health mayco member Zahid Badroodien said residents must consider cremations, or reopening of family graves wherever possible to accommodate a second or third burial, and said the City has seen an increase in these types of burials over the past few years.
Badroodien also suggested mausoleum burial - a type of burial in an above-ground building that coffins were enclosed in.
Mausoleum burials can be reserved with the City, as well as cremation “where cultural and religious beliefs do not prohibit this”.
One of the leaders from Lower Crossroads in Nyanga, chief Archie Zanenyani Mazondwana, said his traditional culture Xhosa and Christianity don’t permit cremation.
Mazondwana said funeral practices are ingrained in culture and around the globe varied traditions reflects widespread beliefs and values.
“To some of us we believe we can still communicate with the dead. But that would be a different case if there was cremation.”
Stuart Diamond, director of the Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies, has recognised and understood the City’s statement on the alternative methods for burial.
However, he said: “In terms of the burials, the Jewish community is like other communities struggling to source land. Its cemeteries are also fast filling up.”
Diamond said the Jewish community is unfortunately unable to cremate due to its burial law.
Sheikh Riad Fataar, second deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and chair of the MJC’s Muslim Cemetery Board, said Islam does not permit cremation, and the council has written to the City about it.
Badroodien said burial space is a challenge in metropolitan areas around the world, and Cape Town was no different.
“The City offers burial and cremation services to the public. The demand for cremation is approximately 40%, versus a 60% demand for burial. The municipal cemeteries receive an average of 1100 burials per month.
"The scarcity of burial space, steady increase in population and limited number of cemeteries receiving burials, have influenced a slight increase in demand for cremation.”
He said there are 40 cemeteries within Cape Town, and 17 of them are still being used.
“Of the 17 cemeteries still being used, only six have a significant amount of burial space left. The rest are all being used by families reopening graves to accommodate a second or third burial.”
He said, however, a cemetery is being built in Mfuleni, called the Metro South-East Cemetery, which is anticipated to be completed by the end of next year.
“Plans to extend Welmoed and Atlantis cemeteries are also under way, while applications for environmental approval of new cemeteries in Tafelsig, Vaalfontein and Rusthof are also being pursued.”
Avbob has recently introduced a process called Aquamation, which is designed to reduce human remains through a process of water, pressure and heat.