Funeral house ban to go national

The National Funeral Practitioners’ Association of South Africa (Nafupa) has vowed to spread their intended ban of Indian- and white-owned funeral business in black areas from KwaZulu-Natal to the rest of the country.

Nafupa intended to stop them from operating and new ones from setting up from February 1.

The organisation’s secretary-general, Nkosentsha Shezi, said their controversial programme of action would go ahead as planned and that there were plans to roll it out in other provinces.

“We are a national organisation and we had 540 members before we made the announcement, but now we have a lot more who joined us since then. We are starting in KwaZulu-Natal, but we will be doing the same in other provinces.”

He claimed they had support from other sectors of the black business community, including church leaders.

“We did not lobby other sectors on the initiative, but they have approached us and commended us and said they support what we are doing.”

Shezi maintained they would start the boycott, despite a meeting with a KwaZulu-Natal government delegation led by economic development, tourism and environmental affairs MEC Sihle Zikalala on Friday.

Shezi said although the organisation appreciated the meeting with Zikalala, which included other parties in the sector, there was no decision to halt the implementation of their plan.

Shezi said the organisation wanted an industry charter to determine guidelines that would protect black businesses in townships.

“We need an industry charter because we want equity from these big businesses,” he said.

The organisation is being hauled to the Durban High Court by the Doves Group, which is a subsidiary of the Numsa Investment Company (NIC), in a bid to stop it from interrupting their businesses. The application for the interdict is expected to be heard on Tuesday. Numsa is the National Association of Metalworkers of South Africa.

NIC CEO Khandani Msibi said Nafupa refused to exclude Doves from its “illegal embargo” of white-owned business in townships for reasons that “defy logic”.

“Doves Group is 100% black owned and, while we can fully align with the aspirations of black business, we do not think the route being taken is sustainable, even for black business. The actions of Nafupa in preventing white business from trading in townships by force is illegal.”

Msibi said the NIC acknowledged the institutional support given to white-owned businesses in South Africa and said black businesses should change how they operated.

“We noted that some of the black businesses were established in the 1960s and 1970s and yet they remain lifestyle or subsistence businesses. On the other hand, white businesses like Capitec and Discovery are less than 25 years old, but both have grown to be worth in excess of R120 billion.”

He said black businesses needed to make use of opportunities they had control over to “lock in value opportunities effectively and efficiently”.

“We challenged black funeral practitioners and all black business in townships to change the manner in which they operate, to lift the wealth creation capability of their businesses,” Msibi said.

Speaking to City Press shortly after the meeting with Zikalala on Friday, Doves Group CEO Minki Ngcobo said it was still not clear if the company would still be boycotted. They intended to meet Nafupa to discuss this.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Zikalala’s office said it was intended only to address Nafupa’s controversial announcement.

The department said that while there was a need to transform the country’s economy, there was equally a need to ensure this was done within the confines of the law and the Constitution and in a manner which did not exclude anyone.

It said a workshop with funeral associations had been planned for next week, to get to the nub of their concerns and find solutions.

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