Johannesburg 'is not digging graves in anticipation of Covid-19 deaths'

09 July 2020 - 11:55 By Iavan Pijoos
Grave diggers working during a site visit by health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku on Wednesday July 8 2020 in Tshwane.
Grave diggers working during a site visit by health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku on Wednesday July 8 2020 in Tshwane.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

Johannesburg said on Thursday that it was not preparing graves for mass burials.

SA recorded 8,811 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 224,665. Gauteng accounted for 3,527 of those new cases, meaning it has replaced the Western Cape as the province with most confirmed infections, TimesLIVE reported overnight.

Provincial health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and officials from forensic pathology services visited an area reserved for Covid-19 burials in Tshwane on Wednesday. That site was being prepared for a potential worst case scenario — should the need arise for mass burials.

The city of Johannesburg on Thursday moved to clarify reports that suggested more than a million graves had been dug.

Mayoral spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase told TimesLIVE that the city had made provision for a total of 1.4 million graves for “any deaths”.

“These are serviced as and when a burial must take place and not prior.”

Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said there were "not more than a million already open, dug graves", saying that number refers to the collective capacity of municipalities.

“The department is continuing to improve and increase both the infrastructure and human resource capacity of the health system to deal with the increasing pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We understand that the subject of death is an uncomfortable matter to engage in. However, ensuring that there is adequate burial space in the province unfortunately forms part of the reality government must contend with in the battle against Covid-19.” 


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