Dead end in mortuary spat
Richard Roberts, Die Burger
Port Elizabeth – A business owner from Joubertina is refusing to leave the town’s mortuary until the council officially throws him out.
Edgar Page, owner of Simon Jones funeral services, says a smear campaign by a competitor is behind attempts to close his business.
In addition, he was never informed of a recent municipal tender for the management of the mortuary, which is located at the cemetery.
According to an official at the Koukamma district municipality, a verbal agreement was reached with Page a year ago.
“It was decided that he would use the mortuary for a short period,” said Jeffrey Ruiters, head of parks, recreation and sanitation services.
“There’s nothing in writing. Page was asked to leave the mortuary and hand over the keys to the council,” he added.
According to Matthew Chabeli, a community leader and DA deputy chairperson of ward 3, “Page is currently squatting in the building illegally.”
The power supply to the mortuary was cut off and Page is currently using power from a nearby house, he said.
“There are bodies in there but the building doesn’t even have power. What kind of service is he providing the community?” Chabeli wanted to know.
Page said the bodies of a grown man and a baby are currently being kept in the mortuary, and confirmed that the mortuary’s power supply was cut off a month ago.
He uses an extension cord from a house about 10m away to power the mortuary’s fridge.
“It is for that precise reason that we asked him to give us back the keys. The council also started a tender process whereby people can apply to rent the building,” Ruiters said.
Page says the applications closed before he was even aware of such a tender. Apparently he bought a new motor for the fridge, which cost him R4 500.
“He (Page) hasn’t paid any rent to the council, so that should compensate for his expenses,” Ruiters said.
Page’s competitor, Petrus Kogana, owner of Maranatha funeral services, denied any direct or indirect attempts to sabotage Page or his business.