'Ban' on White, Indian funeral parlours in townships looming

Nafupa-SA says Indian and white funeral markets are reserved for parlours owned by these race groups, and have locked out black parlours. / MOELETSI MABE
Nafupa-SA says Indian and white funeral markets are reserved for parlours owned by these race groups, and have locked out black parlours. / MOELETSI MABE

There are fears of violence in KwaZulu-Natal as the deadline for white and Indian funeral parlours not to work in townships looms.

Last month, the National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa (Nafupa-SA) issued a statement and lobbied to ban all white and
Indian-owned funeral parlours from operating in black communities in the province from February 1.

The threat was repeated again this week when Nafupa-SA's secretary-general Nkosentsha Shezi issued threats against the parlours and those who support them.

Shezi said it was unfair that Indian and white funeral
markets were reserved for parlours owned by these race groups and could not be penetrated by black parlours.

But, he said, white and Indian funeral parlours were allowed to make a killing in the black funeral industry.

"We have to level the playing grounds, this situation cannot be allowed to persist any longer. We want to create job opportunities for our unemployed youth and create a legacy for our future generations."

Tony Munisammy of Phoenix Funeral Services said their customers in the township have vowed to protect the company's staff and vehicles.

"These are customers who have been paying insurance to us for years and now they are being told by someone who comes now that they cannot access the services that they have been paying for," said Munisammy.

"This call to ban Indian and white parlours is not only unfair, but also illegal."

Doves, a company that was acquired by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), said it was surprised to learn it would not be allowed to do business in KZN townships when, in fact, it was 100% black-owned.

Mbuso Ngubane, Numsa's KwaZulu-Natal secretary, said they met Nafupa-SA last week to explain that Doves belongs to Numsa members, the majority of whom are black and reside in townships.

He said the meeting ended when Nafupa-SA members threatened them with violence.

"We then opened a case of intimidation in the Durban Central police station. Before the meeting ended, we explained to them that Doves was paid for in full by members of Numsa through their investment company," Ngubane said.

"They then demanded free shares in Doves to withdraw the threats. We told them it couldn't happen because Doves was not donated to Numsa members. That is when all hell broke loose and they threatened us."

The National Funeral Parlour Association (Nafupa) has distanced itself from the threats made against white and Indian funeral parlours, saying Nafupa-SA was a group of disgruntled members who left their organisation to form their own.

On Wednesday, Mlungisi Chiliza, Nafupa's national spokesman, urged the government to take strong action against people who are making threats. "We believe that this is not the correct way to resolve problems.

"They went as far as saying they will burn the vehicles of Indian and white businesses. We are totally against it and we cannot allow that to happen," he said.

The IFP has called on government to act before violence breaks out. The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal also said it opposed attacks against Indian and white funeral parlours.

Sihle Zikalala, the newly-
appointed ANC provincial task team convenor and KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development, said he will meet Nafupa-SA members todayand other stakeholders in the industry to try and find an amicable solution.

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