DA visits Mountain Rise’s ‘old and neglected’ crematorium, cemetery

2019-03-28 17:08

The DA conducted an oversight inspection at the Mountain Rise crematorium on Wednesday morning after it broke down during one of Eskom’s recent load shedding episodes.

The Witness reported last week that the power failure at the Mountain Rise crematorium plunged an already grieving Northdale family into a macabre nightmare as the furnaces shut down midway through the cremation of a relative.

Read: Cremation nightmare

The body of Anitha Brijlal (58) lay in one of the furnaces for nearly 10 hours on that Sunday night as her family suffered through “conflicting stories” while trying to get Msunduzi to restore power to the crematorium.

Another family’s relative’s body started to decompose while they waited for the power to be restored.

Deputy leader of the DA in KZN, Mergan Chetty, said one of the main issues was that Msunduzi Municipality failed to maintain the crematorium and cemetery and refused to privatise these facilities.

“When the power goes off due to load shedding or whatever reason, the generator powered by gas should kick-in as a back-up plan and there should be no reason for bodies to be stuck inside the crematorium waiting for the power to be restored.

“The municipality is not maintaining this place properly. There was no gas in the generator in case of unforeseen situations. Instead, it’s excuse after excuse,” he said.

Chetty took the DA’s national chief whip, John Steenhuisen, around the Mountain Rise cemetery and inside the visibly run-down crematorium building. The crematorium building looks old and neglected, with paint peeling off the walls.

The grass around some of the graves was long and unkempt.

Steenhuisen said his visit was part of many other visits looking at the incidents of load shedding and how it is impacting lives of ordinary South Africans. “The incident that happened to this family is too traumatic for words. ... Having to go through the trauma of having a cremation stopped halfway due to load shedding must have added more trauma to that poor family.”

He was shocked at the terrible state the cemetery. “This should be a place that is respectful of the dead.

“It’s where people come to pay tribute and honour their loved ones, meanwhile there are graves you cannot even walk to because of the overgrown grass which makes it simply impossible.

“This is a failure of service delivery on the most basic level and clearly something needs to be done. It can’t carry on like this,” he said.

Steenhuisen said the crematorium building needs to be renovated and service delivery needs to be improved dramatically.

“... This municipality should frankly hang their heads in shame,” he said.

Steenhuisen said they would raise this matter in Parliament and will continue to put pressure on the National Council of Provinces and the local municipal council to send a maintenance team to restore the facility to at least a semblance of what it should be.


Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg  |  cremation
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