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Strict burial, cremation rules for undertakers

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo

Durban – Municipalities have been urged to prepare for a possible increase in cremations and burials due to the impact of Covid-19.

The SA Cemeteries Association (Saca) said socio-economic conditions posed an incredible challenge in containing the spread of infection.

It added that with a high infection rate, the death rate was expected to climb.

Currently, the country has recorded at least 13 Covid-19 deaths, with ­KwaZulu-Natal accounting for seven.

It said that in anticipation of the increase in the death rate, municipalities were encouraged to put plans in place.

The association said weekday bookings would also have to be prioritised to avoid congestion at the weekends.

Documentation from undertakers should be scanned and emailed with proof of payment at least 24 hours before a burial or cremation and funerals should be limited to 30 minutes.

“Burial bookings will only be accommodated between 10am and 3.30pm for both weekdays and weekends. Cemeteries must be manned for burials with only the minimum staff required for excavation as determined by the number of burials for the day. We recommend two staff for a burial,” the association said in a statement.

According to Islamic Burial Chairperson, Salim Kazi, said not much had changed regarding Muslim burials in light of Covid-19. 

“We follow the guidelines as set out by the National Health Plan. Usually we collect the body, we then wash the body and shroud it before the person is buried. With the Covid-19 regulations, we are required to collect the body in a body bag and bury the person in the body bag. However, we still perform the usual burial rites by washing and shrouding the body. We then lay the body into a box-like structure and the person is buried,” Kazi said. 

He said the new regulations did not complicate the burial rites in any way.