Pauper’s Burial in South Africa

February 19, 2016

The sad reality is that a pauper burial is when no-one is willing to or able to pay for a funeral. This is known as a paupers burial South Africa. Many times the only people at these funerals are the undertaker and a city council representative. When a person dies and they have no one to take responsibility of their body, the hospital where the death occurred will arrange a simple funeral and a burial.

Should a person pass away outside a hospital, then the state will arrange a burial. If they die whilst they are overseas, International Relations and Cooperation Department collaborates with representative from overseas to provide logistical assistance to the next to kin.

Paupers Burial South Africa – No Financial Assistance for Those who Die Abroad

The South African Government doesn’t offer any financial assistance when South African Paupers Burial South Africacitizens die abroad. When a body is returned to South Africa, there are very strict conditions for it being transported and huge transportation costs, with many requirements and certificates being completed. Should the next of kin of the person who passed away not be traced and there are no financial means, a pauper’s burial will be required.

Paupers Burial South Africa – No Niceties with a Pauper Funeral

Pauper’s burials in South Africa will occur for anyone who has passed away as an unknown person ‘inside the geographic boundaries of Council subject to Section 62(2) of the National Health Act no. 63, of 2003 as amended…shall be buried or cremated at the discretion of Council’. Unfortunately for the pauper, they mat well be buried in a cemetery which has been determined by Council. There will most likely be no headstone, and sometimes to allay costs, 3 paupers may be allotted to just one grave.

Paupers Burial South Africa – Babies Not Exempt

In a country like South Africa, there is a backlog in pauper’s burials. A few years ago bodies piled up at the Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital mortuary. Because so many people in South Africa live in such poverty, they cannot afford the high costs of funerals and so they cannot afford to bury their dead. This is the reality and many bodies lie in morgues well past the statutory 30 days for bodies to stay in a mortuary.

There are even the bodies of new-borns found there, because so many babies are simply abandoned at birth. Open a fridge door in these morgues and you’ll find many bodies packed one on top of the other. They are in advanced stages of decomposition. All one can say is that this is the lot of the pauper. A lack of funds and a lack of planning can often result in a pauper burial. Slow administrative processes have also been blamed.

Many times no-one identifies the body and no one comes forward as next of kin. A pauper’s funeral is arranged and paid for by the state.

Paupers Burial South Africa – Costs for a Pauper’s Funeral

There are some funeral parlours that will handle pauper funerals. They simply make the arrangements and have the body cremated at the expense of the state.   In South Africa, AVBOB, which is South Africa’s largest funeral parlour, will offer a pauper’s funeral which will cost around R2200.

It is sad but true, but a pauper’s burial in South Africa is becoming a much more common state of affairs, as the country battles with backlogs, poverty, lack of funds and slow administrative processes.

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All info was correct at time of publishing