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WC govt. to crackdown on fake undertakers

WC govt. want the business of undertaking to be strictly regulated.

An undertakers funeral home. Picture: Giovanna Gerbi/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Western Cape Health Department official said on Wednesday specific legislation to strictly regulate the businesses of undertakers is non-existent in South Africa.

Eyewitness News learned that the non registration of undertakers has left a gap for fly by night operators to exploit grieving families.

There are reportedly hundreds of so-called mushroom undertakers operating mainly in the country's townships.

The Western Cape Health Department's Ryan Clayton said unethical undertakers are taking full advantage of the loophole in the legislation.

"Where the gap exists is not so much at the mortuary facilities and the registration of undertakers, but health legislation that covers the handling of human tissue. However, the gap exists where undertakers get registered to run their businesses."

He said it was very difficult to catch fly by night undertakers and added that they close their businesses as soon as they hear inspectors are in the area.

"When we do our general inspections and we target certain areas, let's say we come to site A and we find two or three undertakers operating there, by the time we come to the next area, often those undertakers have already been informed that government authorities are looking for their facilities and they close down."

Clayton said people can donate their bodies to one of the Western Cape's academic hospitals.

"People could donate their bodies to the universities. All three of our major universities: the University of the Western Cape (UWC), the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Stellenbosch University have got Human Anatomy departments. They preserve the human tissue in a dignified manner and use that tissue to train our medical professionals."