Rising Saturday burials poses Covid-19 risk to mourners, warns City of Cape Town
Cape Town - Although the Western Cape is believed to have passed its Covid-19 peak and the number of deaths have plateaued, the City has expressed concern that Saturday burials have increased.
Community services and health mayoral committee member Zahid Badroodien said recent data showed Saturday burials accounted for just more than 35% of all burials, with Friday and Thursday being the busiest alternative days.
Badroodien said they suspected that, as more people return to work, more funerals were being scheduled for Saturdays.
He said it meant increased footfall at cemeteries within the space of a few hours, which increases traffic congestion, but more importantly, the risk of exposure to Covid-19 “as we have more people moving around in the area in close proximity”.
“The City, therefore, appeals to families to please consider weekday burials where possible, to help advance public safety. We also appeal to funeral-goers to please familiarise themselves with the current regulations around the limitation on the number of attendees, as well as the time spent at the graveside,” said Badroodien.
He said while the demand for burial and cremation has remained well within the City’s capacity, their contingency plans, activated early on in the pandemic, would remain in place.
“Those contingency plans included engagements with funeral undertakers, mortuaries and religious fraternities to ensure that they are kept abreast of the latest legislative requirements.”
Siviwe Mhlomi, 34, director of Uviwe Funeral Services, a funeral parlour based in Khayelitsha, said he was in the business for at least 11 years, servicing the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.
Mhlomi said they noticed an increase in weekday burials since the lockdown.
Pieter van der Westhuizen, Avbob’s general manager for funeral services, said the country had far fewer annual deaths than the highs of the mid-2000s when the HIV epidemic was at its peak.
“The country has recently surpassed a total figure of 10000 deaths.”
Van der Westhuizen said Avbob has grown its footprint over the period, so the industry would be able to weather the storm.