Municipality addresses burial space shortage

As the issue of a shortage of burial space in eThekwini remains a challenge, the municipality has set aside about R216-million to procure three sites to be used for cemetery space.

This was revealed at a hearing hosted by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) on Thursday, 15 March at the Protea Edward Hotel in Durban. The hearing was postponed until Friday, 27 April.

The municipality has identified suitable land in Vulamehlo in the South, Cato Ridge and Hammarsdale for cemetery space and it is envisaged that with their capacity, the sites will last for at least 50 years before they fill up. Two sites have been identified for crematoria in Umkomaas and Phoenix.

Durban Mayor, Zandile Gumede said the shortage of burial space in eThekwini was a serious challenge which the municipality had been dealing with for years. “Migration to the city from rural areas and outside the country is increasing. This has led to over-crowding in urban areas,” said Gumede, who added that the overcrowding then translated to more people being buried within the municipality.

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She said the city was aware and respected the religious and cultural beliefs of residents who do not believe in alternative burial methods and this was the reason the municipality was trying its best to identify suitable land that could be used for cemeteries.

She hopes that addressing the land question will also assist in averting the situation. “We believe that expropriation of land without compensation will assist us in addressing these challenges of gravesites in the near future,’ said Gumede.

READ ALSO: Scottburgh cemetery in shocking state

Speaking about the policy on the re-use of gravesites, chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xalavu said that although she understood that shortage was a serious challenge facing the municipality, it was important to always put the rights of citizens first.

Of the 65 existing cemeteries within the municipal area, 54 have already reached their capacity.

 

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  AUTHOR
Earl Baillache
Journalist

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