'Costly funerals must stop’

2013-05-17 00:00

THE high cost of funerals in black communities is putting families under unnecessary pressure and needs to end, an Eastern Cape bishop has said.

Bishop Makhosi Ngcoza, overburdened with counselling families battling debt after extravagant funerals, has called a meeting and invited ward councillors and traditional, church and other community leaders to intervene.

Ngcoza, the president of Flames of Fire Ministries in Ntabankulu, attributed the growing trend of expensive funerals to competition and expectations in black communities, even among poor families, to raise the bar when it comes to laying their loved ones to rest.

“It is all about showing off,” Ngcoza said.

He said funerals cost any­thing between R30 000 and R50 000. Most of the money is used to hire tents, public announcement systems and to buy groceries. Families who cannot afford these extravagant funerals or have no funeral cover sometimes borrow the money from loan sharks.

“For instance, it is a norm for families to spend R10 000 on a cow to be slaughtered in a funeral.

“This is besides the six or more sheep, the chickens for those who do not eat red meat. This is unnecessary expenditure, because a simple biscuit and juice is sufficient for people during a funeral,” Ngcoza said.

In the meeting he would make a call to the leaders to advise their people to be more circumspect when spending on funerals.

“You don’t get any grace from God for holding a big funeral.

“So who are we trying to impress by staging these glittering events we call funerals? Who benefits from them? Certainly not the dead and definitely not the ones left behind,” Ngcoza argued.

He said the meeting, to be held on June 5 in Mount Ayliff, Eastern Cape, would be open to anyone. “We want to warn our people about this because it is destroying them. It has to stop.”

The bishop said the amount of time spent on funerals was also ridiculous, and that the number of speakers needed to be reduced.

He said memorial services, normally held a few days before the burials, served as mini-funerals, with the same speakers who who would adddress the funerals repeating their eulogies.

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