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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Jan 22, 2024  4 weeks, 1 day, 21 hours, 16 minutes ago

While There Is No News Of COVID-19 Deaths Or Excess Deaths In South Africa, Many Municipalities Facing A Cemetery Crisis Due TO COVID-19!

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While There Is No News Of COVID-19 Deaths Or Excess Deaths In South Africa, Many Municipalities Facing A Cemetery Crisis Due TO COVID-19!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Jan 22, 2024  4 weeks, 1 day, 21 hours, 16 minutes ago
The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold in South Africa, and while there may be no recent news of COVID-19 deaths or excess deaths in the country, several municipalities are grappling with a pressing cemetery crisis. The focus of this predicament is the Endumeni Municipality in the north of KwaZulu-Natal, where the shortage of burial space has become a critical issue due to the significant loss of lives since 2020 with the start of the COVID-19 crisis and that became worse with each new COVID-19 surge or wave.

Cemetery Crisis In South Africa Due TO COVID-19
Mayor Siyabonga Ndlovu expressed his concern, stating that the city could face a substantial dilemma if the construction of new cemeteries is not completed within the next six months. The realization of this crisis struck the community when existing cemetery sites, utilized for years, began filling up rapidly in 2021 and 2022. In response to this pressing obstacle, the municipality identified the need for additional burial space and promptly secured a new piece of land for cemeteries.
However, deaths in 2023 especially in the second half of 2023, made the crisis of shortage of burial plots even more apparent and concerning.
"We were all shocked after realizing the cemeteries sites that have been used for years were filling up rapidly in 2021 and 2022. After noticing this obstacle, we decided to get another piece of land for cemeteries," Mayor Ndlovu told local COVID-19 News coverages.
To address the urgent situation, the municipality took swift action by reallocating funds and earmarking R12.5 million for the acquisition of new cemetery land. Some ongoing projects had to be temporarily paused to expedite the construction process, ensuring that the community does not face the dire consequence of limited burial space.
The affected communities, including Dundee, Glencoe, Sthembile, and Sibongile townships, predominantly bury their deceased in the Dundee and Glencoe cemeteries, the only two available in the region. However, even these cemeteries are running out of space, prompting the municipality to take decisive measures.
"We had to pause some projects to quickly address the disaster so we don’t find ourselves facing issues of scarce burial space. We hope we will be done with the project in the next six months because if we come across unfortunate circumstances during the process, community members will be forced to opt for cremation and reusing family graves," Mayor Ndlovu explained.
Residents, such as Innocent Mbele, expressed their support for the municipality's proactive approach to avoid complications arising from full burial sites. "Some of us live in townships and burying family members in our homes was not an option. As people who are culturally orient ed, cremation was also not an option, and we are happy with the municipality’s move," said Mbele.
The situation is not unique to Endumeni Municipality, as the eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal is also grappling with a shortage of burial space. In 2020, eThekwini Municipality implemented alternative burial methods, including cremation and the reuse of family graves, as a response to the scarcity of space for new cemeteries. Families unable to pay for a 10-year lease for gravesites may see cemeteries that are a decade old being repurposed for new burials.
In fact, numerous other municipalities across other provinces in South Africa are also facing the same problem. No one will ever be able to know the true amount of deaths due to COVID-19 in South Africa and worse, no one even knows the true current COVID-19 situation in South Africa.
In conclusion, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on burial space in South African municipalities underscores the need for timely and strategic planning to address unforeseen challenges. As communities grapple with the consequences of the pandemic, municipal authorities must continue to adapt and find sustainable solutions to ensure the dignified resting of their deceased citizens.
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