With concerns that the Western Cape is yet to see the peak of coronavirus infections, the City of Cape Town is preparing individual graves to ensure a dignified service to the immediate family. While the demand for the burial of COVID-19 victims is still manageable, the city council said it wants to prepare adequate burial space should the number of deaths rise.
Under normal circumstances, there is an average of 1 200 burials in City-owned cemeteries per month. Additional capacity for burial is also provided by private cemeteries.
However, current projections estimate that in the worst case peak scenario, fatalities could rise to about 5 280 per month as a combined total of normal and COVID-19 related deaths.
“The City can confirm that it has adequate space to accommodate the increase in burial demand. There are a few existing cemeteries with adequate space, however Atlantis, Welmoed, Klip, Maitland and Wallacedene cemeteries have been assessed and found to have the largest reserves in burial blocks available for a high volume of burials to take place simultaneously,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.
The City has also prioritised engagements with funeral undertakers, mortuaries and religious fraternities to ensure that they are kept abreast of the latest legislative requirements. He said the stakeholders in the fatalities management system are interdependent and communication is key to mitigating any challenges arising from a pressurised and sensitive system.
“Cemeteries remain operational as an essential service and while there have always been strict conditions, we have tightened safety measures even further during burials. We realise this is a difficult time for everyone concerned, but the national regulations have to be adhered to,” explained Councillor Badroodien.