City of Joburg wants you to consider other burial methods as graves may one day run short

The City of Johannesburg is encouraging residents to consider alternative burial methods for loved ones as private graves are unsustainable.

"One area that has seemingly escaped the reforming waves of cultural evolution is the act of burying our loved ones," mayoral committee member for community development councillor Nonhlanhla Sifumba said in a statement on Thursday.

"The majority of people still opt for private graves for burial, which is unsustainable within cities such as Johannesburg – which has one of the highest amounts of burials in Gauteng because of migration patterns," she said. 

The City of Johannesburg is of the view that if residents do not explore alternatives cities will not be able to provide sufficient burial space in the future.

"There are various alternative burial options available to people, especially for families with existing burial locations. These include reduction burials, which involve using a smaller coffin for remains in order for more room to be created for additional burial space in the same location.

"Another option which the City is seeing greater interest in, ideal for couples and families, is second burials in the same grave," Sifumba added.

Above-ground burials

The latter, which is provided for in Johannesburg by-laws, is more affordable and environmentally friendly, according to Sifumba.

Although there is currently adequate burial space, the City suggests above-ground burials or cremations may also serve as an appropriate alternative.

"People may also opt for mausoleum burials, which are above-ground burials in a tomb or chamber that allows for families to be buried together within the structure.

"Moreover, there is the option of cremation, which some cultures have adopted as a preferred option – opting to scatter or place the ashes in a memorial wall to commemorate the life of the deceased," Sifumba said.

Civil society and religious leaders should begin considering the above alternatives to commemorate loved ones, according to the City, which anticipates growth in urban areas in the near future that cemeteries will not be able to accommodate.

"Religious leaders and funeral directors are requested to continuously engage bereaved families about alternatives to enable the City of Joburg to provide dignified burial options for loved ones," Sifumba concluded.

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