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Cemeteries fully operational as the province braves the storm

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By Loushe Jordaan Gilbert

As gale force winds and disruptive rains continue to sweep through the Western Cape, the Muslim Cemetery Board chairman and Muslim Judicial Council Burial Administration said cemeteries remain open and operational.

Speaking to VOC News on Thursday, Muslim Cemetery Board chairman and MJC Burial Administration Secretary, Faizal Sayed said the rainfall causes the water table level to rise, which then has the potential to impact operations, like digging graves, or reopening family graves.

“Many people are not aware of the challenges that cemeteries undergo during these adverse weather conditions, but we also have several challenges during the warmer months,” he said.

Sayed said the gale force winds and heavy downpours has affected several operations at various cemeteries.

“There are several challenges that arise when we experience adverse weather conditions such as the management of open graves. When we have Janaazas (funerals) come in, graves are flooded, people get injured because the ground is unstable, especially when walking in mud. Trees tend to get uprooted which causes danger to the public and then there is the challenge of time,” he said.

Sayed further stressed the importance of respecting the cemetery staff, as they endure a lot to ensure that Janaazas are performed.

“We must be cognisant that cemetery staff undergo a lot of duress during this time. The staff are subjected to so many challenges. They must perform multiple Janaazas and do not have the privilege of going home to get dry or heat up on cold days, they must stay the entire day, working long hours,” he emphasized.

Sayed said it is important for the public to stay in constant contact with undertakers ahead of the Janaazas to ensure that all procedures run smoothly.

“When making arrangements, it is important to do so timeously and stick to the time frame, if possible. Stay in constant communication with the undertakers to stay abreast with the conditions at cemeteries and to ensure that there are appropriate spaces available. The public should also note that we might not be able to honor peoples request to reopen graves, simply because it might be flooded,” he stressed.

Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councilor Patricia Van der Ross has since stressed that the department has reached its capacity in dealing with these challenges.

‘Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for a saturated water table or flooding in the cemeteries. The Recreation and Parks Department is working to manage the situation as best as possible, but we do appeal for the cooperation and understanding of families and undertakers planning burials during this time. We also want to appeal to funeralgoers to please exercise caution due to the conditions underfoot in cemeteries,” she said

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