More red tape to delay burials

By Charlene Somduth Time of article published Aug 27, 2015

Share this article:

The government is introducing more red tape when it comes to burials, in a bid to curb fraudulent activity.

In future, the issuing of burial order forms will no longer be done by funeral parlours but by the Department of Home Affairs.

But parlour owners have raised concerns, mainly over delays they foresee by getting government entities involved.

The deputy president of the National Funeral Directors Association, Nash Govender, said the change would impact members who serve the Hindu, Muslim and Jewish communities.

“In these religious sects it is customary to bury or cremate almost immediately after death so the soul can find peace and rest,” he said. “Before a decision like this, funeral parlours should have been given an opportunity to raise concerns.”

The announcement was made by the department during a workshop with funeral parlours in Durban last week.

Govender said funeral parlours would now also need to get a transportation order form to transport the body.

“If a person dies at home, the form must be issued from the SAPS in their area. If a body is in the morgue or hospital, these respective departments need to issue the form. The entire process is going to be delayed.”

Govender said the process was going to add more grief to bereaved families.

The owner of Newlands City Funerals, Koushik Maharaj, said the new rule was going to cause a huge backlog for cremations and burials.

“We wait an entire day to get death certificates from the department and in most cases our staff are hounding the department to get it done on time. The department needs to reconsider,” Maharaj said.

“We are currently responsible for ensuring and checking that the doctor has certified the person dead, we make sure we get the death certificate and we issue the burial order. These services are within our fees. Now the family has to do everything and only when they present us with a death certificate and burial order can we then proceed,” he explained.

Hoosen Ally of the Tongaat Muslim Society, who was present at the workshop, said they conducted burials within seven hours of a person dying.

“The (new) process is going to be too long. This is going to take more than seven hours. What is going to happen on weekends when the department is closed? Are they going to make arrangements for Muslims and Hindus over the weekends or do we have to wait until the Monday?”

eThekwini’s head of Parks and Recreation, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, said he understood the need for the change.

“Fraudulent activities are on the rise. People try to crook the system to cash in on insurance policies and to sell grave sites. These matters are under investigation.”

Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said the directive was already in force.

“Funeral undertakers used to issue multiple burial orders for the same corpse. This created problems within families and funeral institutions,” he explained. He said the burial order would be issued immediately on registration of death.

Share this article: