Pretoria families have to dig own graves

2013-04-04 09:05

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Pretoria - Families in Pretoria might have to dig the graves of relatives themselves because of the expiry of a municipal grave-digging contract, according to a report on Thursday.

Funeral undertakers found that gravediggers had downed tools at all Tshwane municipal cemeteries, leaving it to undertakers or relatives of the dead to dig and cover the graves, The Times reported.

Inland regional chairperson of the National Funeral Directors' Association, Elsabe Basilio, said on Wednesday: "It's very traumatising. Funerals cannot be postponed. I had a burial at which my staff had to arrive early to dig the grave."

She said in some cases grieving families had to cover the graves because there was nobody else to do it.

Tshwane spokesperson Nomasonto Ndlovu said the council was not aware of any situation.

One undertaker on Wednesday left a body in an open grave, according to Basilio.

"He just said the municipality must come and sort this out, because we should not be doing it," she said.

She said the city's contract for grave digging expired at the end of March.

"The contractor agreed to stay on in the interim while a new tender went out. But he was not paid for the last three months of work, so he is now refusing to help."

Basilio's association will on Thursday make an urgent application to the North Gauteng High Court for an order compelling the municipality to hire gravediggers.

- SAPA
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