Funeral association threatens to dig up old graves if eThekwini fails to find more space
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Durban - THE National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa (Nafupa) has promised drastic action should the city not provide new graves or fail to exhume graves older than 100 years.
Nafupa president Muzi Hlengwa reacted after the eThekwini Municipality made the announcement about the new graves.
He said 8 000 graves was not enough and called it an insult that the graves were not new.
“There are graves older than 100 years on Pixley kaSeme Street, I’m sure family members of those buried have also died. Why go and exhume graves that are 10 years and older, when there are older ones being kept as monuments? This is an insult to people. As black people when you exhume someone they have to be cleansed, who will pay for this ceremony, the families? For a long time now the city has said they were going to buy land for new graves.”
Hlengwa said recently that Nafupa argued with the city’s Parks and Recreation unit, as it had asked them to encourage people to cremate instead.
“Chatsworth crematorium is not working. How long do people have to queue at Clare Estate crematorium, which is a private one? If we encourage people to cremate, the crematorium won’t be able to cope. If the city doesn’t buy land or exhume that cemetery on Pixley KaSeme, we will go dig it up ourselves.”
Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the move was an effort to address the shortage of burial space in the city.
He said that the city had around 65 cemeteries, and 97% of them were at capacity.
“Close to a third of them are no longer operational. This poses a huge challenge for the city and, as such, there was an urgent need to come up with burial alternatives,” he said .
Thembinkosi Ngcobo, the head of Parks, Recreation and Culture, said the exhumed remains would be reburied, where they would remain permanently, at a smaller cemetery.
He said only remains older than 10 years would be exhumed.
“The municipality instituted this method, which it felt appropriate to make way for new grave sites. Through this, families who want to visit the gravesides of their loved ones will be able to do so. They will have full control over the grave spaces and will be able to perform appropriate funeral rituals,” said Ngcobo.
He said the high demand for burial space led the city to undertake this project.
Ngcobo said that a 30-year plan for the provision of burial services was being developed.
“Land has been identified specifically for burial space, specialists are currently busy with environmental impact assessments and geo-technical assessments to ascertain if the land is suitable for graveyards.”