COVID-19: CT, eThekwini prepare extra burial sites while CoJ considers cremation

In an online meeting on Thursday, the three municipalities briefed Parliament’s cooperative governance and traditional affairs oversight committees on their plans to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE: The metro cities of Joburg, Cape Town and eThekwini are preparing for the anticipated peak in COVID-19 infections and the need for burials and cremations. Picture: Pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - Cape Town and eThekwini Metros are scouting out extra land for burials and plan to refurbish crematoria as they prepare for an increased number of deaths from COVID-19 while Johannesburg is worried it doesn’t enough gravesites.

In an online meeting on Thursday, the three municipalities briefed Parliament’s cooperative governance and traditional affairs oversight committees on their plans to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The metro cities of Joburg, Cape Town and eThekwini are preparing for the anticipated peak in COVID-19 infections and the need for burials and cremations.

Mayor Geoff Makhubo said the City of Joburg was hard at work preparing burial sites: “We have only capacity for 1,034,000 across four cemeteries in Johannesburg and three crematoria with a capacity of only doing 61 cremations a day. We’re still engaging with the private sector around the cremation of bodies.”

Makhubo said there was community resistance to cremations: "When the peak hits, how are we going to deal with it, we only have a limited number of graves – our communities are telling us to find more land for gravesites.”

eThekwini has a task team identifying land for burials and is refurbishing a crematorium.

Cape Town is also bringing mothballed crematoria back into service. City official Craig Kesson: “We are currently ramping up not only our capacity in the cemeteries and cremation space, but also linking with the private sector in Cape Town, with funeral homes and other providers of burial or cremation services.”