COVID-19 in SA: More funerals in the festive season

Funeral homes in Durban say they've had to extend their working hours to prevent a backlog. eNCA's Lethiwe Mdluli reports. Courtesy of #DStv403

DURBAN - Funerals are being conducted every day in Durban as more people die from COVID-19.

The eThekwini district is one of the hotspot areas.

Funeral homes say they've had to extend their working hours to prevent a backlog.

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The number of cremations at this crematorium has more than doubled over the holiday season.

Clare Estate Hindu Crematorium's Rayan Gangaram said, "with the second wave things have gone out of control we are averaging between 12 and 15 and this has resulted in us doing a double shift."

"We start off at 7 am for the first cremation and morning parts are dedicated to COVID funerals. Because of the capacity constraints if somebody passes away today, there will be a waiting period of at least two days because we can only do so many cremations a day. The other crematorium in Verulam is restricted and the Municipal one in Mobeni I'm not sure how far their operation goes so we are bearing the brunt of it. We are carrying the entire eThekwini municipality."

Thu Funeral Group said they have come up with new interventions to help with the backlog.

Moses Mujati said, "the number of funerals that happen during this time tends to increase so what we've done is that because of the whole covid thing we now bury on a daily basis so our existing stuff find themselves having to be at the cemetery having to wash and dress bodies on a daily basis. What we've also done is that we've created additional capacity by way of mortuaries in anticipation that we might need more mortuary space."

The National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA says the number of bodies they are collecting from hospitals is not normal.

READ: COVID-19: Funeral homes running out of room

Nafupa president Muzi Hlengwa said, "I don't normally remove bodies, but I had to go myself and assist. I removed nine bodies yesterday. Yesterday alone."

"We normally remove the bodies from the mortuaries in hospitals but now they are in passages, they are in wards and beds which is terrible. I wish that our people would take extra caution this time around we've never had a December in the funeral industry that is as busy as this one."

Hlengwa has also raised concerns about healthcare workers without proper personal protective equipment.

"As much as we are on PPE, the government must ensure that their employees are on PPE."

"I can take you right now and go to King George, you'll see all employees they are not on PPE. All of them, not one, all of them including the ones that are taking the bodies out of the mortuary fridge for us."

"Before I touch the body, he touches it and after I'm gone he still has to touch about 100 bodies that are in the fridge. The government needs to supply them with PPE."

Meanwhile, funeral homes are encouraging families to follow proper protocols and adhere to the restricted number of people allowed to attend funerals.


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