WATCH | Durban undertakers want to bury white monopoly funeral parlours
The National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA (Nafupa) says police will have to collect the bodies of people who die during their three-day national shutdown.
Members of the association gathered outside the Gale Street mortuary in Durban on Monday as a part of a national call by the Unification Task Team (UTT) of the funeral industry to shut down for three days.
The protesters held a mock funeral for the “white monopoly” they said is still in control of the funeral industry.
WATCH| A member of the National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA has been put into a coffin as a symbol of what funeral Practitioners, protesting outside Gale Street mortuary, say govt has done to them. #NationalFuneralParloursStrike @TimesLIVE @yasantha pic.twitter.com/JbmLUYUgyV— Lwandile Bhengu (@Lwandi_N) September 14, 2020
“We have made arrangements with the department of health and police that when deaths occur, people will call the police and make sure the forensic department sends vehicles to pick up the bodies. Families will not be affected when their loved ones pass on because on Thursday we will be back and will be conducting funerals for them," said UTT KwaZulu-Natal facilitator and chairperson of Nafupa SA, Muzi Hlengwa.
The association took the move to close down the industry after a deadlock with the government over their concerns. Hlengwa said the funeral industry had been “reasonably patient” with the government but had nothing to show “apart from empty promises”.
“We need transformation in this industry, and we need it now.”
The industry wants the outsourcing of mortuary facilities to be recognised and legalised.
“One of the reasons close to my heart is that government is allowing itself to be used to shut down or isolate small players in the industry. The ownership of mortuary facilities is expensive, so with those small parlours we are here to assist them where they fall short, " Hlengwa said.
After gathering outside the mortuary, the group of about 50 protesters visited funeral homes that were open to close them.
“If they try to resist, we will be forced to use minimum force,” Hlengwa said.
Ahmed Paruk, vice-chairperson of the Undertaker's Forum, said the strike would present a dilemma for the Muslim Burial Association as they needed to bury people within 24 hours. However, he said they also would remain closed.
“It's a huge dilemma for us because we bury as quickly as possible,” said Paruk.