KZN MEC tries to the bury the hatchet over funeral parlour race clash

Grave: Image.
Grave: Image.
Image: 123RF/oneinchpunch

The National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA (Nafupa-SA) will not block Indian and white-owned undertakers from working in townships.

But they will not back down from a "request for these businesses to give us space to service our own people”.

Last month Nafupa-SA issued a statement calling for a ban on Indian and white-owned undertakers from operating in townships from Thursday‚ February 1‚ and urged township residents to cash out funeral policies with those companies.

But on Tuesday‚ the association's president Muzi Hlengwa backed down‚ saying they will not intimidate Indian and white-owned funeral parlours.

"We are asking for space to work for our people. There is no need to fear what we are asking for. Don’t misinterpret what we are saying‚" he said.

Hlengwa on Tuesday said the association's members will instead march in the Durban city centre on Thursday to highlight their grievances.

This backtrack follows a meeting with the KwaZulu-Natal economic development‚ tourism and environmental affairs department this week.

In a statement issued on Tuesday‚ the department claimed to have "brokered a solution" between funeral parlours in the province.

"I can confirm that all the concerns which led to tensions among the various funeral operators have been addressed‚” said MEC Sihle Zikalala. “We have met with all the affected parties and agreed that there was a need to urgently form a steering committee to address issues of transformation which Black funeral practitioners had raised as one of their main concerns.”

At the same time‚ on Tuesday the Durban High court ruled in favour of the Doves Group‚ which had applied for a court order interdicting Nafupa-SA from obstructing their business.

According to papers filed before the court last week‚ the interdict further aims to prevent damage to property‚ the creation of an environment which is not conducive to conducting business and the intimidation of Doves staff.

The application was not opposed.

Meanwhile‚ the National Funeral Parlours Association said it would not drop its Equality Court complaint against Napufa-SA.

"Even if they don’t block our members‚ we have to go ahead with the case because there were certain things that were said that cannot be ignored‚" said National Funeral Parlours Association public relations officer Mlungisi Chiliza.

In the application filed in the Durban Equality Court on Monday‚ Chiliza said Nafupa-SA and its executive were fanning racial prejudice.

"Certain members of the National Funeral Parlours Association‚ particularly Indian and White owned funeral businesses‚ have expressed their fear as to what will happen to them after February 1 should they conduct funerals in predominantly black are and unfortunately the association fears for their safety and is unable to protect them‚" he said in court papers.

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