Johannesburg City Parks Regulations – Exhumations

The word exhumation means ‘out of the ground’. An exhumation is about the authorised digging out the ground a coffin with the dead person in it. Here we will have a look at Johannesburg city parks regulations for exhumations.

The reasons for an exhumation are many –

  • it could be to establish the cause of death
  • the cemetery has to make way for other kinds of development
  • to establish the person’s identity
  • people want to put the dead person into another cemetery
  • it could even be to identify the deceased. It is sometimes that the wrong body has been buried


Johannesburg City Parks Regulations For ExhumationsExhumation isn’t something that is readily done, particularly because, in many countries, the bodies go for cremation. Not only that, there are some additional regulations with certain graves. No grave older than 60 years of age is legal for examination with a particular permission from the South African Heritage Resource Agency. You can only exhume a Commonwealth war grave in keeping with provisions of the Commonwealth War Graves Act of 1992.

A Post-Mortem may be Necessary – Johannesburg City Parks regulations for exhumations

Sometimes at the time of death, suspicious facts were surrounding the death. The person could have been buried for a while before the new evidence comes to light. Then a post-mortem becomes necessary to bring facts to light.

You can’t jus exhume a body. For starters, the person doing the exhumation must first disinfect the grave and the body. The person doing the exhumation must also provide a suitable coffin or receptacle for the remains.  Also, certain people need to be present at an exhumation. The South African police, coroner, doctor or a magistrate may need to be present.

The grave has to be identified properly, and the area should be screened off. An exhumation must never take place when the cemetery is open to the public.  Professional diggers, wearing appropriate clothing and equipment such as gloves and mask are then to remove soil from the grave. It is customary to open the lid of the coffin once it is up from the grave.

Consent Needed For Johannesburg City Parks Regulations for Exhumations 

Regulation requires that for exhumations in Johannesburg you must obtain written consent from the –

  • Premier of the Gauteng Provincial Government
  • the provincial Department of Health
  • the Council
  • the Medical Officer of Health of the Council
  • the Provincial Department of Health
  • the Administrator of cemeteries; and


So you must inform the Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Services. Also, a member of the South African Police must always be present with an exhumation.

Exhumation only takes places after very careful consideration. Arrangements can take a while to materialise.


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All info was correct at time of publishing