Outrage over grave proposals
PROPOSALS to ban burials on Sundays, fining late-coming mourners and recycling graves have raised the anger of traditional and community leaders
The proposals put forward by the eThekwini municipality during its two-day cemeteries workshop yesterday angered the leaders, who labelled it "disrespectful" and "unAfrican".
The Durban municipality's department of parks, leisure and cemeteries revealed to more than 200 delegates that some of the proposals included the banning of burials on Sunday, use of biodegradable coffins, recycling of graves, standardisation of tombstones and imposing a fine on late comers.
The municipality has proposed that families of corteges that arrive late at cemeteries should be fined R1,000.
The workshop was aimed at engaging community leaders about alternative burial methods due to the shortage of available space in cemeteries.
Deputy chairperson of KwaZulu-Natal traditional leaders, Chief Mpiyezintombi Mzimela, expressed shock that the municipality believed that communities would consider recycling graves to save space.
Mzimela said in African tradition a persons' grave a "place of rest that should never be interfered with after the burial".
"As traditional leaders we will not stand back and watch our people do the opposite of what they believe in. We will not encourage our people to re- use graves and we are appealing to the municipality to respect our tradition," he said.
Mzimela questioned the proposal of fining late comers, saying grieving families usually lost track of time.
The department's deputy head Christo Swart said 18,000 burials took place annually in all of the city's 62 cemeteries and urged communities to consider alternative burial methods, including cremation.
He described tombstones as an obstacle in their plans to re-use or maintain graves.
"Graves could be leased for R690 over a 10-year period and if the lease is renewed, a R5,000 fee would be applicable.
"Sunday burial will be not allowed except on special circumstances and late comers would be fined R1,000," he said.
Swart explained that housing and other developmental projects competed for land with cemeteries. He stated that the provincial Cemeteries and Cremation Act allowed for two people to be buried in one grave, saying there were plans to recycle 1400 abandoned graves.