Undertakers protest at Home Affairs over death certificates

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Funeral undertakers protest at the Department of Home Affairs Head Offices in Pretoria. (Photo by Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius)
Funeral undertakers protest at the Department of Home Affairs Head Offices in Pretoria. (Photo by Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius)
  • Undertakers embarked on a protest at the Department of Home Affairs offices in Pretoria on Tuesday.
  • The protest centres around issues around the certificates of competence.
  • Delays in issuing certificates and the protocols attached delay the registering of death certificates, funeral parlours said.

Undertakers protested outside of the Department of Home Affairs offices in Pretoria on Tuesday over numerous issues, including the registration of death certificates. 

At the heart of these issues was certificates of competence (COCs), which allowed funeral parlours to operate and register deaths on behalf of the family.

Raisbe Pole-Nkosi, the president of the African Funeral practitioner organisation, explained that Home Affairs was responsible for issuing of COCs and that there had been delays, which, in turn, had delayed the issuing of death certificates on behalf of bereaved clients. 

She added that the department also wanted to change the system and force undertakers to reapply for their COCs yearly, which would involve writing an exam and training. 

Pole-Nkosi said this would not work as there were already delays in writing tests and issuing of certificates. 

Among the other issues was that funeral parlours should be allowed to rent storage space from each other and that the red tape is sorted out to help start-up parlours succeed.

On Tuesday, undertakers were dispersed by police who used stun grenades, according to Pole-Nkosi. She said the protesters were peaceful, but vowed not to leave the building entrance until their demands were met.

READ | Funeral parlour grouping accuses Home Affairs of 'undermining' them, threatens to shut head office

News24 reported on Monday that while the Department of Home Affairs said it had "fulfilled its promise" to the Unification Task Team (UTT), the grouping of funeral associations and forums have threatened to shut down the department's head offices in Pretoria on Tuesday.

In a statement on Monday, Home Affairs said it had granted provisional designation for funeral parlours or undertakers to temporarily conduct business relating to the department's registration of deaths.

It issued a circular to staff, the provincial department of health and metropolitan and district municipalities announcing its decision.

Siya Qoza, spokesperson for Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, previously told News24 that they had noted UTT's plans to protest.

"We don't understand why other people should be inconvenienced by a matter where there is clear and constant engagement in UTT. What they are looking for is not something that can be implemented exclusively with Home Affairs."

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