Covid-19 deaths exhausted gas supply at embattled Durban crematorium, says municipality
Cremations at the Mobeni Heights Crematorium in Durban had to be suspended again recently because the high number of Covid-19 deaths had exhausted the facility's gas reserves.
This is according to the eThekwini municipality, which announced late on Wednesday that the facility, which serves many communities in the south Durban region, would resume operations on Thursday.
“The city would like to thank residents for their patience while the city was dealing with the issue of gas shortages, which were due to the high number of burials as a result Covid-19 which alarmingly exhausted the facility’s gas reserves,” the municipality said in a statement.
It said it did not see “further impediments for this crematorium to discharge its much-needed responsibilities”.
In February, shortly after the facility reopened after years of battling malfunctioning furnaces, calls were made by community activists to privatise it, which the municipality dismissed at the time as the work of “greedy individuals”.
This came amid claims that the crematorium had malfunctioned again shortly after its reopening.
Visvin Reddy, chair of the Mobeni Heights Crematorium Action Committee, told TimesLIVE on Thursday that the community was “simply fed-up”.
“The municipality has spent millions of rand of ratepayers' money first on installing the new furnaces that were imported and thereafter on repairs.
“Then, soon after, we found out there is a gas shortage. This crematorium has caused untold misery to the people of Chatsworth and surrounding areas. They are unable to bid farewell to the dead with some dignity.
“We know that crematoriums can work very well, especially now that there is limited space for burials.
“The option of using crematoriums should be readily available and at a cheaper cost. We have come to the conclusion that the municipality cannot manage this crematorium any longer.
“We are asking them to hand over the crematorium to the community. We will enter into a partnership with the municipality and the private sector to manage this facility.”
Reddy said the Clare Estate Crematorium, which is privately owned, is run and managed efficiently and the Mobeni facility could be run in a similar fashion.