DURBAN: CHATSWORTH politicians, religious and civic groups are threatening a rates boycott and other action if furnaces at the Mobeni Heights Crematorium are not fixed soon.
The municipal facility has two furnaces, but only one is working and there have been problems with the furnaces for five years.
Various stakeholders - including funeral directors, religious, political and civic leaders - met this week and decided to take the fight for a better crematorium to the city.
The public meeting was headed by the DA’s KZN chief whip, councillor Sharon Hoosen.
Hoosen said her requests, at meetings of the city’s executive committee, for a revamp of the furnaces and building had been ignored.
She said she had repeatedly consulted officials over the past five years about the crematorium, but her efforts had failed.
“Because contractors who worked at the Tongaat Crematorium were not paid, they would not do repairs at Mobeni,” she said.
“The city has been elusive on this issue. Their latest excuse is that they had received applications from three contractors to do repair work at Mobeni, but these did not meet requirements,” said Hoosen.
Isipingo Funeral Services director Dhayalan Moodley said they battled to book the one available furnace while providing funeral services to grieving families.
Moodley said cremations at the privately owned Clare Estate uMgeni Hindu Crematorium cost R1880, which was far more expensive than the R660 charged at Mobeni.
“It has become a difficult-to-do business. This problem has been going on for five years,” he said.
The suggestion of privatising Mobeni was rejected by Logan Chetty, of the KwaZulu-Natal Funeral Directors’ Association.
Chetty said: “Don’t go there because you’ll end up paying double the rate. It’s the municipality’s responsibility to care for its ratepayers.”
He described the crematorium building as derelict.
“The whole thing is falling apart. It’s time to take the bull by the horns or we’ll take to the streets to picket.”
Chatsworth Civic Federation representative Mubarak Mohamed decried the municipality’s lack of service delivery and suggested a rates boycott.
“The time has come to galvanise the support of the people so that the city will listen to us,” he said.
DA MPL Mohammed Rafeek Shah advised that a peaceful picket would be the best way to voice concerns about the crematorium.
“We can arrange a peaceful demonstration, provided people come out in numbers,” he said.
With the agreement of stakeholders present, a seven-member committee was formed.
Hoosen said: “The delegation will set up a meeting with the city manager to find a way forward, because for far too long the community has been sidelined.”
The demand, Hoosen said, would be for an immediate, transparent tender process to repair the facility.
“Clearly, the community does not want the crematorium privatised, so we need to ensure the city is held accountable. If the city continues to ignore us, we will have to respond with further action.”
The head of eThekwini’s City Parks and Recreation Department, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, could not be reached for comment.