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Radio Interview Inanda 88.4 FM

RADIO SLOT TIME: 19H00, 06/04/2020, (11 MIN)


The interview was requested subsequent to the release of the South African Cemeteries Association statement to the media, cautioning and advising municipalities to get prepared on the possibilities of high demand for burial space and cremation facilities that might result due to the pandemic of Corona Virus in South Africa. It was also aimed at articulating further in isiZulu language, so that the same message will have far reaching spread to many communities of KZN.

Question: Mr. Mtambo, tell us briefly what triggered the South African Cemeteries Association to make a call to municipalities to prepare themselves for the high demand for burial space and cremation facilities?
Response : We think that the time has come for the municipalities not to keep silence anymore on the issues of cemeteries and crematoria in their respective jurisdictions, the disposal of human remains and the management of cemeteries and crematoriums are the responsibilities of the local municipalities, the spread of the Corona Virus has started to sweep through our nation and like any other country that had been infected by the Virus, preparations for the disposal of the remains of the Corona Virus victims had to be done by relevant authorities, in our case such preparations are at the door step of the municipalities.

Question: The spread comes at a time where most of the municipalities in KZN, including EThekwini Metro had indicated that they are running out of space quite fast, in your opinion, how must these municipalities respond to your call as SACA for this possibility of more land demand and cremation facilities?
Response: I think there are two responses that we are hoping to see from our municipalities amid the state of disaster that we are in as a country.
1. The municipalities will take the issue of adopting and acting on the issue of alternative burial methods more seriously than they have done before especially the method of cremation as it is the most preferred way of disposing the bodies that are affected by the Virus.
2. This calls for the municipalities to act swiftly in taking stock of the number of graves available within their cemeteries and set them aside for any eventualities, the municipalities need to revisit those areas within their jurisdictions either inside or outside the cemetery zoned areas, which could not be utilized for burial purposes due to environmental constrains or any other reasons before and start to apply for mitigating processes with the relevant authorities for the use of such areas as a response to accommodate the bodies/victims of Corona Virus.

Question: What is your message as the Association to the public out there, on what role they can play in the mist of the rapid spread of the Corona Virus, what message can you convey to the cemetery officials who are unease due to the danger that their workplace could present due to the contaminated bodies that will be brought at cemeteries?
Response: As an Association, we would like re-iterate and support the call made by the President of the Republic and Health Department Officials in the promotion of hygiene, in particular regular hand washing and sanitizing, adhering to social distancing and self-isolation at home to those who feel weak and many other measures that are pronounced to break the circle of the spread of the virus. To the Cemetery officials we say practice safety at all times at work place, use proper PPE for the job you`re doing, adhering to the guidance from the Cemetery Managers for the direction during this time of disaster is key, there are already Guidelines that the Association has sent to most municipalities on how to navigate operations during this time which will be of great assistance.

Question: Lastly, the regulation that limits the number of mourners to 50 per burial and the lockdown in general, how has it affected the function of municipalities when it comes to cemeteries?
Response: Generally, in most municipalities Cemeteries are operational during this lockdown period, therefore the function of opening and closing of graves is not affected, the issue will start when the cemeteries start to receive more than average burial requests, meaning if there were not enough prepared graves available, and those municipalities will run into a dilemma. The greater change of things is more on families, particularly African families to change from their conventional way of burying their loved ones, by coming in multitudes at cemeteries for their closure with the departed.
Unfortunately, the state that we are in as a country does not afford us luxury anymore to choose what will be preferable to anyone, but it demands that we all pull in one direction in order to defeat this common enemy of CORONA VIRUS

Question: Any announcement that you might want to share with our listeners as your closing statement?
Response: Let me close with this, we don`t have any announcement to share, but we are saying “the Storm is here now and it is fiercer than we all thought it was going to be, lets rise now and live or lay down and be swept away”.