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Protesting KZN undertakers want competence certificates officially scrapped

Some associations of funeral practitioners have formed a unification task team, which is calling for certificates of competence not to be requested from undertakers who don’t own mortuaries among other issues.

Image: 123rf.com

DURBAN - Protesting funeral practitioners in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) said they want the national Department of Health to confirm in writing that a certificate of competence (COC) would not be required when they collect bodies from health facilities.

Some associations of funeral practitioners have formed a unification task team (UTT), which is calling for certificates of competence not to be requested from undertakers who don’t own mortuaries among other issues.

The UTT has staged protests in various cities across the country on Monday and violent scenes were observed in Durban.

Eyewitness News has seen at least two funeral practitioners being forced to shut down by protesters aligned with the UTT.

But KZN leading funeral practitioner Muzi Hlengwa said their action was justified.

“The fight here is that all undertakers who do not own mortuary facilities can not be forced to produce a COC simply because they don’t have mortuaries.”

The Health Department's Murdock Ramathuba said the protest was unwarranted.

“In August, I had a meeting with Nafpa to try to address the issues they had, which we addressed some of them.”

But Hlengwa said Monday’s s strike comes as a result of government's poor communication with the sector.

NOT THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO DEMANDS

The Health Department said it could not respond to the demands raised at Monday’s protests by some funeral practitioners because it was not the appropriate authority to do so.

The department’s Murdock Ramathuba said hospitals have been given orders not to request certificates of competence during the collection of bodies.

“In the regulations that are governing the management of human remains, there is no provision for a person to produce a COC when they go to collect human remains.”

Ramathuba said however, they cannot accede to demands that services can be outsourced to undertakers who don't own mortuaries.

“The issue is, what is outsourcing? Who should legalise it? Because our responsibilities as the Department of Health is to regulate the management of human remains to make sure that the human remains do not constitute health risks to members of the public.”

At the same, the UTT’s Muzi Hlengwa has threatened to intensify their protests if government doesn't accede to their demands by Wednesday.

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