Cremator grumbles continue

2012-08-27 00:00

THERE is still no ending to the city’s crematorium and cemeteries woes.

The Msunduzi Crematorium and Cemeteries Concerned Citizens’ Committee (MCCCCC) has issued a press statement containing a litany of complaints about the running of the facilities.

The municipality in turn has responded with the view that the committee is more concerned about the crematoriums and not the cemeteries as a whole.

It also said it was mindful that there could be hidden agendas regarding the crematorium.

Advocate Ranjiv Nirghin, chairperson of the MCCCCC, said the cremator at the chapel in the cemetery was finally repaired and in working order when inspected in June.

However, it ran out of gas. He said cremator number two at the old Hindu crematorium was not fully functional because of cable theft and was operated with a generator.

He added that the municipality had still not replaced the cable, opting to shut down cremator two, which left the city with only one running cremator.

“It was reported to MCCCCC that due to maintenance issues cremator two was only activated on Monday, August 20, 2012, when the cremator in the chapel stopped working,” Nirghin said.

It was unacceptable that cremations were still not being conducted with dignity because of the failure of the municipality to carry out its duty, he said.

And all of this happened after his committee had been assured that the cremator in the chapel was going to be repaired and the municipality would have two cremators running simultaneously.

The council failed to replace the electricity cable stolen about three months ago, Nirghin said. It failed to increase the amps breaker switch so that lights on the outside of cremator two could be kept on at night as a security measure.

He said it was also unacceptable that no one had been appointed after two posts were advertised for qualified cremator operators in February.

Nirghin also expressed his disappointment that his committee had not yet met Mayor Chris Ndlela on the matter. He said the mayor had agreed to meet the MCCCCC once the municipality’s response was ready to discuss a concrete way forward. He said they were still waiting for the meeting.

Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma said the mayor had not yet met the MCCCCC because he had instructed that a working group be formed to deal with the crematorium issues. The MCCCCC had not yet finalised its membership of the working group.

“However, there is regular consultation with them and they know that,” he said.

Zuma also said crematoriums needed to be looked at holistically and not isolated from the matter of the cemeteries, as both issues were receiving equal attention from council.

He added that R2,8 million had been budgeted in this financial year for crematoriums to buy two cremators and cremulators, and the tender would be advertised within the next month.

Zuma said the gas did run out, but another cylinder was immediately connected. They were also reviewing the contract with the gas company to have a bulk gas tank installed on site.

He added that municipal staff organogram was being reviewed and that “serious consideration” was being given to the employment of qualified personnel with suitable technical experience.

He said security had been enhanced and the infrastructure services department was dealing with the problems resulting from the theft of electricity cables.

Zuma added: “We are not discounting the possibility of a particular agenda regarding the crematorium, as we invest in making the crematorium perform and deliver the best service.

“We are mindful of that.”

• nalini@witness.co.za

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