Repatriation of Dead in SADC Region

Repatriation of dead immigrants from South Africa to their country of birth takes place through the Southern African Development Community.

Importantly, the SADC has its headquarters in Botswana and is an inter-governmental organisation. So it aim is to build social and cultural ties among the regional population of 277 million people in these countries.


There are 15 Member states of the SADC and We look Briefly at Each One

  • Repatriation of DeadSouth Africa – A well-developed country with 50 million people. Natural resources include gold and coal with major industries including mining and automobile assembly. Main languages spoken include English, Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans
  • Botswana – This region has a population of 2 million. The official language is English. And major industries include diamonds, copper, livestock processing and tourism.
  • Lesotho – The Kingdom of Lesotho links closely economically and culturally to South Africa and has a population of 1.8 million. They also speak English and Sesotho. Natural resources include water, agriculture and tourism.
  • Swaziland – This country links to South Africa economically and culturally. It has a population of 1.1 million and the languages spoken include English and SiSwati. Some natural resources include asbestos, coal and sugar cane.

Further North are –

  • Namibia – Namibia won independence in 1990 and has done well as a country with its natural resources, tourism and its close links to Germany. Major industries include fish, dairy products, mining and tourism.
  • Zambia – Their primary industries include copper mining, tourism, agriculture and hydro-power. Its population is 13.4 million and the languages there are English, Bemba, Kaonda and others.
  • Zimbabwe – A country rich in natural resources with electricity supplied through hydro-electric power. A population of 12.7 million who speak English, Shona and Sindebele. Major industries include coal, gold and agriculture.
  • Mozambique – Mozambique has a population of 20.5 million and the major languages include Portuguese, Emakhuwa and English. Industries include food, beverages, fertiliser and tobacco.

Off-shore countries are –

  • Madagascar – A French colony since 1896 became independent in 1960. Its population is 20.6 million, and they speak French and Malagasy. Major industries include coffee, sugar cane and tourism.
  • Mauritius – This country attracts significant foreign investment and has a population of 1.2 million. The people speak Creole, English and French. Some major industries include clothing, mining and tourism.
  • Seychelles – With a population of 87 000 the languages the people speak there include French, English and Creole. The Government has encouraged fishing and farming so as not to be reliant on tourism.

Finally into the Heart of Africa –


  • Malawi – Malawi became independent in 1964. Their population is 14.3 million, and they speak Chichewa and Chinyanja. Among the major industries in Malawi are tobacco, tea and sugar.
  • Tanzania – Famous tourist attractions include Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro. But the country depends on agriculture for employment. The population of 50.5 million who speak Swahili and English. Natural resources are hydro-power, coffee and cotton.
  • Angola – The economy relies on the production of oil and diamonds. It has a population of about 17.9 million, with the official language being Portuguese.
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo – A country which is slowly rebuilding over many years of civil war. It has a population of about 75.2 million with the official language being French. Some industries include diamonds, gold and agriculture.

Repatriation of Dead Bodies is made Easier with a Medical Aid Plan

If a medical aid member dies in one of the SADC countries, their body is repatriated by road or air to their hometown.

Transporting a dead body from South Africa to their country of origin (and vice versa) can be expensive, costing anything from R10 000 to R20 000, depending on the funeral home and funeral director. However, there are many funeral homes which offer repatriation services.

Repatriation of Dead – Here’s an Example from Sanlam

Sanlam provides return facilities for the loss of a loved one in a country far from home.

So their Burial Repatriation Benefit takes care of the transport of the deceased member’s body to the place of burial in South Africa.

This service is available for the principal member of the funeral plan covered by their Group Life Assurance who make use of road or air transport from anywhere in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland or Zimbabwe.

However, remember that a relative is required to accompany the mortal remains.

Significantly, Sanlam offers assistance with all necessary documentation if you have a funeral policy with them. Also, Sanlam handles cross-border documentation, referral to a pathologist if an autopsy is needed as well as other funeral services. And these services are available around the clock, night and day.

Burial Societies start Emerging in Zimbabwe

To mitigate the high costs of repatriation of dead mortal remains across borders, people from these SADC countries, and more specifically Zimbabweans, have set up their burial societies.

These societies have a joining fee and then a small monthly subscription of R50. Fortunately, families in the SADC countries are becoming more aware of this trend of burial societies for its diaspora population.

So Zimbabwe, which has millions of people living and dying in South Africa, are gearing up to take on this task.

But not all in the diaspora can afford what funeral homes offer, and they resort to illegal repatriation.

Fortunately, many SADC funeral parlours have opened branches in South Africa, operating these satellite offices in different cities to cater to their SADC customers.

Funeral homes handle the repatriation of dead bodies and this job involves processing all the documentation to bring the body back.

Without a medical aid, these countries have to make sure that all mortal remains are brought back home for burial by their families.

Reporting a Death that occurred Beyond South African Borders

Deaths of South African citizens who die in any of the SADC countries, must be reported to the nearest South African embassy. And the state where the death occurred will issue a death certificate.

The South African Embassy must receive a certified copy of the death certificate which will help to complete the paperwork and also assist with arrangements for getting the body back to South Africa.

The Department of Home Affairs will issue a Death Certificate once they have received the notification of death.

You can get an application for a Death Certificate from any office of the Department of Home Affairs or a South African embassy.

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All info was correct at time of publishing