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Striking funeral practitioners threaten to shut down SA if demands not met

Thabiso Dladla of the Unification Task Team on Monday said they had been requesting government to convene a conference looking at formalising the sector since 2016, but government leaders had so far failed to take that request seriously.

FILE: A pastor reads a passage from the Bible during the funeral of Modise Motlhabane, who died of COVID-19 coronavirus, at the Westpark cemetery in Johannesburg, on 22 July 2020. Picture: AFP

DURBAN - Protesting funeral practitioners on Monday said that government risked having very little control in the future of the funeral sector, just like in the taxi industry, if it continued to ignore their pleas for greater co-operation.

Their strike is set to enter a second day on Tuesday.

Thabiso Dladla of the Unification Task Team - a group that represents funeral directors - said that they had been requesting government to convene a conference looking at formalising the sector since 2016, but government leaders had so far failed to take that request seriously.

The Unification Task Team comprises of funeral practitioner associations, which are currently staging protests and calling for outsourcing to be allowed in the sector, among other issues.

Dladla said that the ongoing protests in the funeral sector came after the failure of previous attempts to get government’s attention.

“Government has been sending officials to us. Officials cannot give us what we want because they’re middlemen. We no longer want to deal with middlemen, we want to deal with department ministers who are lawmakers,” Dladla said.

He said they were hoping that government would reassess its approach to black-owned small, medium and micro-enterprises in the funeral sector.

The Unification Task Team said that despite their important role during COVID-19, the interests of the funeral sector were not being taken into account.

The task team's Muzi Hlengwa added that they would put more pressure on government if their demands were not met by Wednesday.

"We will intensify our strike by making sure that we shut the whole country down. We've seen the taxi industry do it, we don't want to resort to it but we will do it. So, if they don't listen, we will do it. This is the cause we are willing to die for."

Hlengwa said that their main aim today was to ensure that all funeral practitioners who were still operating, shut down.

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