WC Health, Home Affairs working to speed up release of bodies for burial

A Khayelitsha funeral undertaker said that major delays had been experienced at Tygerberg Hospital, where some families were waiting to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones for the past week.

Undertakers at the People's Choice Funerals and Mortuary prepare a coffin for burial. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Health Department said that it was working with the Home Affairs Department to speed up the process of bodies being released to funeral parlours.

A Khayelitsha funeral undertaker said that major delays had been experienced at Tygerberg Hospital, where some families were waiting to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones for the past week.

The concern is that those who died from COVID-19 have to be buried within a five-day period but with the increasing death toll and patient volumes, the strain is felt on all levels.

The Funeral Federation of SA said that it was worried that the second wave of COVID-19 had created funeral backlogs.

Securing burial spaces, sticking to cremation schedules and ensuring parlours have space to store bodies are just some of the many issues.

Patrick Geva - a Khayelitsha undertaker who works for Ntsika Burial Society - said that it was difficult to satisfy their customers at the moment when they had to wait hours and even days for COVID-19 bodies to be released at Tygerberg Hospital.

"I wish that where they keep the bodies they'd employ more people because we wait, wait and wait. There are people, waiting there, that still want to go to Durban with their loved ones but they are stuck there."

Tygerberg Hospital spokesperson Laticia Pienaar said that they were working to remedy the situation, as the facility was dealing with high patient volumes and more deaths than usual.

"In association with the Department of Home Affairs, there have been measures put in place to expedite the process. We apologise for any inconvenience."

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