Mourners at the Maitland cemetery adhere to the lockdown regulations which stipulate that a maximum of 50 mourners are allowed at a funeral. | Ian Landsberg African News Agency (ANA).
Mourners at the Maitland cemetery adhere to the lockdown regulations which stipulate that a maximum of 50 mourners are allowed at a funeral. | Ian Landsberg African News Agency (ANA).

Slight decline in burials but demand remains high, says City of Cape Town

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published Jan 26, 2021

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Cape Town – Capetonians have been encouraged to continue adhering to Covid-19 safety protocols despite data showing that new infections are easing and burials at cemeteries have shown a slight decline for the second week in a row.

The City said there were 622 burials last week, compared to 662 the previous week. It said the demand for burials on a Saturday remained high and residents were requested to consider alternative days.

Mayco Member for Community Services and Health Zahid Badroodien said: “Although burials still remain high – at 180% of interments before the pandemic –the slight ease in demand reflects the downward trend in the rate of infection.

“While this is good news, I want to encourage residents to remain cautious and not to let their guards down.”

In the last week, City cemeteries facilitated 622 burials of which approximately 18% were confirmed Covid-19 burials.

Of the 622 burials, 161 were at Maitland Cemetery, 121 at Welmoed, and 87 at Klip Road Cemetery in Grassy Park.

There were 231 cremations recorded in the last week at Maitland Crematorium, 45 of which were confirmed Covid-19 deaths.

The City said this is an increase in cremations from the 198 total recorded at the crematorium the week before, due to additional cremators working in mid-week last week.

“With the additional capacity available for use from this week, it is anticipated that more cremations will now be able to be processed daily to ease the backlog and alleviate pressure on the system.

“It is important to be mindful that while the City has increased capacity at the crematorium, this is still insufficient to meet the normal 72-hour turnaround time on cremations due to the extraordinarily high demand at present,” the City said.

“The City has therefore submitted a request to Provincial Government Air Quality Management to obtain the authority for extended hours of operation for the older cremators in operation, which may result in increased capacity.

“The general increase in demand for burials and cremations has also been reflected in the increase in burial services for destitute persons.”

The City’s Policy on Burial or Cremation of Destitute Persons of 2014 is still in effect, and there are no new procedures that undertakers are required to adhere to, apart from national regulations which require service providers in the funeral industry to take extra precautions in terms of Personal Protective Equipment when collecting the deceased or managing a confirmed Covid-19 deceased person.

Following a natural death at home or in the community (not including hospital deaths); the next-of-kin of the deceased may apply for a destitute funeral with a choice of burial or cremation, subject to strict criteria including that:

  • the deceased has no funeral policy, no insurance, no income greater than that of a Sassa pension/grant; and
  • that the applicant agrees to a weekday funeral and basic funeral services.

Families can contact the nearest sub-council office or their ward councillor for more information on applications; alternatively any queries can be sent to [email protected]

The City reminded residents to consider weekday burials and alternative burial methods, limit funeral and graveside attendance to 50 people, and adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.

“Burials on a Saturday are reaching capacity and I want to encourage families to consider alternative days as this will ease congestion. We are all at risk and it is the duty of each and every one of us to do what we can to stay safe,” added Badroodien.

Cape Argus

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