Pretoria - As Covid-19 infections continue to rise in Gauteng and the country, a burial site with capacity for 24 000 graves is being prepared at the Honingnestkrans Cemetery, north of Pretoria.
While an excavator dug up the graves, MEC for Health Dr Bandile Masuku and members of the provincial Forensic Pathology Services arrived for an inspection, accompanied by Tshwane chief operations officer James Murphy.
The purpose of the visit was to ensure that the city would not be caught off-guard in the event of scores of Covid-19 deaths.
The grave sites will add to 12 000 graves available in Ga-Rankuwa and 92 000 in Soshanguve and Klip-Kruisfontein. There are 60 000 at Zandfontein and 4 000 in Lotus Garden, while Olievenhoutbosch has 10 000 and Laudium has 2 000.
Gauteng has more than 1.5 million graves for Covid-19-related deaths.
Murphy said burial sites in the city were already being over-utilised due to numerous other deaths that were not Covid-19-related, making it necessary for the city to start preparing itself for all eventualities.
Masuku, who has been travelling across the province to monitor preparedness in all municipalities, said it was unfortunate that while in this process he had already been told of more Covid-19 deaths.
Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Bandile Masuku. African News Agency (ANA)
Of the visit, he said: “This is to check how we will be able to cater in the event of having a whole lot of people passing on in a short space of time.
“All our municipalities have been putting up capacity and acquiring more in terms of the land that they’ll need for burial.
“It is an uncomfortable subject and one of the things that I would like to say is that we still have a good opportunity to manage how the peak treats us and how they would be able to pass through Gauteng.”
He was happy that the City of Tshwane was well-prepared for any eventuality.
Gauteng has at least 10 cases of Covid-19 per 100 000 people.
He said fortunately, Tshwane still has fewer active cases, but preparation was necessary.
He said statistics showed that people between the ages of 50 and 80 were the most vulnerable.
To make matters worse, there has been a 30% increase in the number of deaths in Gauteng that were not Covid-19-related, which made the pandemic an added burden in the burial sector.