Burying the Dead in South Africa

March 22, 2016

Burying the dead in ever growing populations the world over are causing a host of problems in every area of life. When it comes to death the problems don’t stop. There is a cemetery crisis because there is a shortage of ground.

Efforts to find and develop burial sites have been exhausted. In the United Kingdom there are even monetary incentives to encourage people to choose cremation rather than burial.

Surrounded by the sea they have nowhere to expand.  The farming areas are vital to there needs. Apart from cremation which is not everyone’s cup of tea, maybe Sea Burials should become a viable option.

No space for burying the dead

Burying the deadLand around towns is regarded as valuable development land. Farmers aren’t that keen to give up some of their land for new burial grounds. So what is the alternative?

In South Africa Durban has even scheduled a conference to discuss the disposal of human remains because of the grave crisis.

All of South Africa’s 9 provinces are fast running out of burial land, with Gauteng possibly being the worst pressed for grave space.

Durban has 60 cemeteries of which 58 are are already full. Ekurhuleni has 20 cemeteries and 12 of these will run out of space in 5 years.

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In Ekurhuleni, stacking is already happening –  where 3 or 4 coffins are placed in one grave. People are becoming desperate to find solutions for burying the dead, and there are even some funeral directors in Emfuleni who are having to go to court because they are conducting burials on private ground and not following proper procedures.

Culture and Traditions may Have to Give Way to Progress

While it is true that even in the 21st century there are still customary demands surrounding burials and plots in a graveyard, culture and tradition will have to take a back seat. Sheer population numbers and urbanisation are forcing change when it comes to burial practices.

Dr S. Hlathi, president of a certain traditional Health Practitioners Association, says that cremation won’t happen in rural areas because chiefs provide land for graves, but there is only so much burial ground. With increasing numbers of AIDS-related deaths, he may have to change his ideas about chiefs providing land.

Often people have no objection to being cremated, but because they haven’t stipulated their death wishes in a living will for instance, their family members just assume that they would have wanted a burial.

Mausoleums – an Attractive Alternative to Burying the Dead

Cape Town has undertaken a mausoleum pilot project in an effort to see how the public respond to this kind of ‘burial’. This is where coffins are stored in shelves in special building that contains tombs. The beautiful Taj Mahal is the world’s most famous mausoleum.

Mausoleums are attractive, and can be indoors or outdoor types. There are different types and configurations of crypts available. You can choose single crypts or even companion crypts which are designed for two people, but only take up the space of a single crypt.

Cremation Tours

There seems to be only one way out of this burial-space dilemma – cremation, whether this is culturally acceptable or not. Most people talk about, and remember culture only when it suits them.

The Durban Municipality has now launched an education campaign to encourage cremation instead of burying the dead and to also encourage religious leaders to brief their congregations on the advantages of cremation. Can you believe it that they are so serious about cremation, that the municipality is even offering free tours of crematoriums?

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All info was correct at time of publishing