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City of Cape Town encourages cremation for Covid-19 deaths

Published May 21, 2020



With the in increasing Covid-19 death toll in the Western Cape, the City of Cape Town said it is calling for people to consider cremation as an alternative for burials.

According to the City under normal circumstances, there is an average of 1 200 burials and 360 cremations accommodated each month.

However; with the Covid-19 pandemic projections estimate that in the worst-case peak scenario, fatalities could rise to about 5 280 per month.

“There are a few existing cemeteries with adequate space, however Atlantis, Welmoed, Klip, Maitland and Wallacedene cemeteries have been assessed and found to have the largest reserves in burial blocks available for a high volume of burials to take place simultaneously.

“We want to encourage people to consider cremation, especially where their cultural and religious beliefs do not preclude it. Discuss preferences with family members, as so often a person dies unexpectedly, without having told anyone that they prefer to be cremated. When in doubt, the family normally chooses burial. Burial is generally more expensive and there is often a lot of pressure placed on the bereaved to provide expensive coffins and memorials afterwards. Cremation is a less expensive alternative and ashes can be scattered or buried in a family grave at a fraction of the cost,” said Mayco member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

The City also urged people to consider holding funerals on weekdays and not the usual Saturday.

“As the number of burials increase over time, it may become necessary for the City to put measures in place for an even spread of burial bookings across other days in the week,’ said Badroodien.

Undertakers are required to advise clients of the lockdown rules for travelling to and from the cemetery.


Undertakers must carry essential services letters and supply each car in convoy with a funeral leaflet, with information about the name of deceased, time, date and place of burial


Undertakers must ensure that the family adheres to the restriction of a maximum of 50 people permitted to attend each burial. This total includes the priest, family members, undertaker staff and guests. It is recommended that if required, a register of mourners leaving the church and travelling to the cemetery be taken and used to manage access control on arrival at the cemetery


Regrettably, the City cannot provide hand sanitiser, soap, water or masks for the public while at cemeteries. It is strongly recommended that undertakers make provision for their clients and encourage hand sanitising as frequently as possible


All mourners should observe the one-metre physical distancing rule between each other while at the graveside.


A maximum of 10 chairs and one 2 x 3m gazebo is all that is permitted during lockdown


Please note that burial times are to be strictly adhered to and only 30 minutes is allowed in the cemetery for each burial

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