Litigation over furnaces cripples city crematorium

2015-09-30 10:00
Two cremators at the Mountain Rise Crematorium have been out of order causing severe strain on the crematorium.

Two cremators at the Mountain Rise Crematorium have been out of order causing severe strain on the crematorium. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - The combination of a legal wrangle and a malfunctioning furnace has crippled the Mountain Rise Crematorium.

Chairperson of the Msunduzi Crematorium and Cemeteries Concerned Citizens Committee (MCCCCC) Ranjiv Nirghin said that two of the four furnaces cannot be utilised because they are currently the subject of litigation.

Another furnace is being repaired, which has resulted in severe delays at the facility — the only crematorium in the Msunduzi district.

“We were informed that the municipality is currently litigating with the service providers, but we have no knowledge of the reasons. We are assuming it is because of the problems that the municipality is facing with the proper functioning of the cremators since installation,” said Nirghin.

He said the committee was informed that the municipality is exploring the option of adding another furnace in order to ensure there is sufficient capacity to deal with cremations at peak times.

“We would obviously like to see these furnaces working while the litigation process continues so that we are not faced with a situation were we cannot have cremations in Pietermaritzburg,” said Nirghin.

Acting city spokesperson Madeleine Jackson would respond on the legal process, saying it was sub judice.

Local undertakers say they have been under immense pressure after two cremators stopped operations three weeks ago causing a severe strain on the crematorium. The owner of a funeral home, who asked not to be named, said they have had back-to-back cremations scheduled for the past three weeks which has resulted in cremations occurring until 7 pm on weekends. He said the one cremator is under heavy strain and believes “it’s only a matter of time” before that too breaks down.

Another local undertaker, who also asked not to be named, said they advised grieving families to use the Durban crematoriums instead. “Although the furnaces that are working have been managing the cremations for the past weeks, we did advise some of our clients to go elsewhere to be safe. It was a shock to know that the cremators once again are faulty,” said the undertaker.

Nirghin added that significant progress has been made since the MCCCCC’s engagement. The crematorium now has 24-hour security and is enclosed with palisade fencing and proper guard houses. There is also a proper external prayer area and washing facilities as well as refurbished ablution facilities. “There are more seating for mourners as well as external lighting and bulk gas supply. We now just need the ‘new machines’ to be operational and we are confident that the municipality is taking all the possible steps to ensure that we are able to continuously conduct cremations in Pietermaritzburg,” added Nirghin

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