Richards Bay cemetery staff battling to cope with soaring number of burials

08 January 2021 - 16:38
The city of uMhlathuze in northern KZN has been inundated with burials due to Covid-19 related deaths. File photo.
The city of uMhlathuze in northern KZN has been inundated with burials due to Covid-19 related deaths. File photo.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

Close to 50 burials took place within the last week of December at two cemeteries in northern KwaZulu-Natal as the city of uMhlathuze has experienced an abnormal rise in the number of funerals owing to Covid-19 related deaths.

In a statement on Friday the uMhlathuze local municipality said operational challenges had emerged due to the high number of funerals each day.

“The burial space is not only sharply diminishing but operational challenges are emerging due to a number of funerals per day. The last week of December 2020 saw the city having to accommodate 44 burials in two graveyards in Richards Bay and eSikhaleni cemeteries.” 

It said 25 funerals had to be facilitated at both cemeteries on December 30 and 31, making it difficult for staff to prepare graves for the deceased.

“Before the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the city was able to prepare a number of spare graves and manage all funerals on Saturdays and Sundays. With the new normal, the city has had to handle an average of 12 funerals between Tuesday and Sunday and can no longer keep spare graves.”

The municipality appealed to members of the public to co-operate and follow proper channels to book burial space.

“Some families book on the day, which is not practical since there are no spare graves and the personnel is overstretched.

“Families needs to reserve the burial space at least 48 hours prior to the funeral to assist the municipality, particularly the cemetery staff, to have sufficient time to prepare for the booked funerals for that particular day.”

It said members of the public should contact the respective cemeteries for bookings on 035-907-5892 (Richards Bay Cemetery) or 035-907-5856 (Esikhaleni Cemetery).

“The family is required to bring the original copy of the burial order obtained from the department of home affairs. Booking hours are from 8am to 3pm.”

It said under national lockdown level 3 regulations not more than 50 people are permitted to attend a funeral.

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