Funeral directors in South Africa have vowed to shut down their services this week over a range of issues they want the government to deal with. File Picture: (Nicolas Amer/dpa via AP)
Funeral directors in South Africa have vowed to shut down their services this week over a range of issues they want the government to deal with. File Picture: (Nicolas Amer/dpa via AP)

Death in the family? Don’t call us, call the police - striking undertakers tell the public

By Chris Ndaliso Time of article published Sep 14, 2020

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Durban - If a loved one passes on at home or on the roadside, call the police.

That’s a message from the funeral directors who have withdrawn their services of fetching human remains from all public and private hospitals and mortuaries.

Among other issues, industry players demand the recognition and legalising of outsourcing of mortuary facilities, annual provincial schedules for the writing of designation number examinations, the amendment of municipal by-laws to accommodate the building of bulk or cluster or complex storages and the allocation of Covid-19 Relief Fund for the funeral industry with immediate effect,

Isipingo Funeral Services director and a representative of the KZN Funeral Directors Association Dhayalan Moodley said they were not in operation.

“It is quite in our area of operation. People who need our services should call the police to come and do the pickup. This is a very sad situation but if the government doesn’t wanna play ball then we are left with no choice,” said Moodley.

The shutdown is organised by the Unification Task Team (UTT), a formation made up of 17 funeral associations and forums.

The task team convener Thokozani Dladla said no human remains will be picked up from state mortuaries, public and private hospitals and homes by funeral undertakers. Dladla said they had tabled their issues, including the Covid-19 TERS, to Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma a while ago.

National Health spokesperson Popo Maja said the strike was very concerning as it may lead to undesired conditions and risks to public health.

“The department arranged several meetings (2 virtual in August and 1 physical at the beginning of September. These meetings were as a result of an open letter by the National Funeral Practitioners of Association of South Africa. This is the only association that wrote to the department. We would like to emphasise that all funeral undertakers and mortuary premises used in connection with the preparation, storage and preservation of human remains must be in possession of a valid certificate of competence issued by the relevant local authority. Environmental Health Practitioners are and will continue to conduct inspections in all funeral undertakers’ premises in the country to check compliance with the Regulations. Legal action will be taken against owners of premises found to be in contravention,” said Maja in a statement.

He urged members of the public to report any illegal operations to ensure the public can be protected from potential risks and the spread of communicable diseases as a result of poor management of human remains.

Cogta national media liaison spokesperson Mlungisi Mtshali said Minister Dlamini-Zuma had met with the undertakers, and that the minister explained the department position on some of the issues raised including the Covi-19 TERS funding.

“In line of their work, the undertakers should be raising such issues with the national health department. The Minister stated clearly that Cogta was in no position to dictate to the health department to allocate TERS funding,” Mtshali said.

Daily News

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