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'Undertakers have carried caskets from the hearse to the graveside in full PPE'

13 January 2021 1:15 PM

The Funeral Federation Of SA's Dr Lawrence Konyana addresses the lack of uniformity around funeral procedures under lockdown.

The funeral services industry is calling on the government to draw up definitive guidelines on what acceptable procedures are during funerals held under the current national lockdown.

According to the Disaster Management Act, under the current adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations, the number of attendees at a funeral is capped at 50.

Additionally, there needs to be social distancing, and hand sanitizing and mask-wearing is mandatory.

But Dr Lawrence Konyana from the Funeral Federation Of SA says more clarity is needed and adds that the industry has been calling for more thorough guidelines from government since the first wave of the pandemic.

We were made to understand that each municipality would make its rules according to the situation as it sees fit.

Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA

That's one of the biggest problems because each municipality's got its own rules.

Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA

Host Lester Kiewit shared his own experiences of having attended several funerals during the national lockdown.

He says at each one, the procedures were different:

There have been times when undertakers have carried caskets from the hearse to the graveside in full PPE.

Lester Kiewit, Host - CapeTalk

There's times when the families themselves have done it, and there are times when they've not been allowed to.

Lester Kiewit, Host - CapeTalk

There seems to be incongruency about what is allowed and what is not allowed.

Lester Kiewit, Host - CapeTalk

Addressing the lack of uniformity between municipalities, Dr Konyana says up to now the industry has taken their cue from the authorities.

Some municipalities impose that the people who carry the coffin are the undertakers in full PPE.

Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA

That then meant most families refused to disclose because it carried with it a stigma.

Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA

If a body is sealed in a body bag, and the coffin is sealed properly and sanitized, it should be quite safe enough for the family to carry the coffin.

Dr Lawrence Konyana, President - Funeral Federation Of SA

During his address to the nation on Monday President Cyril Ramaphosa said funerals had become a death trap for many South Africans adding that they have " consistently been identified as so-called ‘super spreader’ moments."

Ramaphosa admitted that "providing a fitting send-off for a departed loved one is deeply ingrained in all of us", but said that performing certain rituals are not possible at this time.

" All these activities that would normally take place are just increasing our exposure to risk – for ourselves, for the bereaved family and for our own families at home...for now, it is best and safer to stay at home."

RELATED: Bodies of Covid-19 victims to be declared 'bio-hazards' in Free State metro

RELATED: 'We've run out of coffins' - funeral parlors not coping

RELATED: Various factors behind Eastern Cape coffin shortage, but it can be fixed - Fira

Listen to the full podcast of this interview by clicking below:


13 January 2021 1:15 PM

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