Striking Soweto undertakers protest outside Bara

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  • Upcoming and small undertakers staged protests outside the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Soweto, on Monday. 
  • Those striking were on the lookout for colleagues who are not participating in their three-day strike. 
  • Among their demands s that government designate a department to which all undertakers could report. 

A small group of owners and workers of small undertakers in Soweto staged a peaceful protest outside the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Diepkloof, Soweto. 

They were at the hospital on the lookout for their colleagues who were suspected of operating while many had opted to down tools nationwide. 

The strike, which started on Monday, is expected to end on Wednesday. 

Among their demands is that government designate a dedicated department which all undertakers could report to. 

Undertakers claimed that they currently had to report to the local government, home affairs, and economic development departments. 

Soweto undertakers task team facilitator Muzi Magubane said that as aspiring and upcoming undertakers in Soweto, they felt that government undermined their profession. 

Magubane told News24 that government did not want to give them land where they could operate their businesses. 

"We [are] also demand funding from government," said Magubane. 

Last year, undertakers went to Pretoria where they protested for recognition and funding from government. 

ALSO READ| 3-day shutdown call by funeral industry poses serious public health risk, warns Health Dept

"Government has never responded to our memorandum we delivered last year. We have since been tasked with mapping a way forward to get government's attention. 

"There won’t be any removals from government mortuaries and government and private hospitals from Monday until Wednesday. We are here to ensure that no undertaker leaves with a body from this hospital," Magubane said. 

Magubane said that they were protecting their industry at large. 

"We are not being taken seriously by our government. Our plea for land to operate our business from is not considered by government. We are rendered as fly-by-nights by many people because government doesn't take us seriously. 

"The present government doesn't mind engaging with other sectors like the taxi industry while undertakers are being ignored. We request government to help us as a collective with funds, where we can build storages [sic] for bodies before burial," said Magubane. 

Small undertakers are currently renting storage facilities from other undertakers to store their bodies. 

"For us to work, we need our own storages and Certificate of Competence (CoC). You will only obtain the CoC once you have storage facilities and have been declared complaint by environmental officers," said Magubane. 

The strike continues on Tuesday morning outside the hospital. 

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