Cape Town short of graves

2010-09-15 10:50

The City of Cape Town is struggling to find land for new cemeteries, amid a dire shortage of burial sites, its cemetery co-ordinator Susan Brice said.

“The city has discussed the possibility of recycling, but this is difficult to do without a full public participation process,” she said today.

Cape Town also needed the approval of the South African Heritage Resources Agency before it could recycle graves.

The eThekwini Municipality recently announced that it would soon start recycling old graves because of a shortage of burial sites. Remains would be exhumed and reburied in a mass grave.

The City of Johannesburg said it had no plans to recycle graves because it did not have a shortage of burial space.

Brice said Cape Town was struggling to find new burial sites because most of the Western Cape had a high water table.

“Many sites which were investigated did not meet the department of water affairs’ criteria for in-ground burial,” she said.

The City of Cape Town has 34 cemeteries, but only 15 still have burial space available.

“The rest are only occasionally used for second burials and ashes,” said Brice.

She said the city was encouraging families to consider second burials, where coffins were placed on top of an existing family member’s coffin.

The city was also looking at introducing a “reduction” burial option. This entailed exhuming remains and placing them in a smaller box for burial lower down, freeing up space for one or two more coffins.

She said there were approximately 800 burials a month in city cemeteries. This excluded figures for privately-owned cemeteries.?

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