Johannesburg and Pretoria metro officials are convinced that existing cemeteries are well prepared for the victims of the Covid 19 pandemic amid rising death tolls.
Margaret Arnolds, a member of Johannesburg’s mayoral community development committee, and Msho Nawa, chief administrator of Tshwane, both outlined their respective cities’ preparations on Friday to provide burial and cremation services in response to the expected increase in death rates.
Arnolds said while 33 of the city’s 37 cemeteries are almost full, others, the Olifantsvlei, Wespark, Diepsloot and Waterval cemeteries, have 517 ha of land available, which is enough for 1,034,000 new graves.
“We have room for more than a million graves. . . we as a city also have crematoriums and three others in the private sector that are also ready. . . ” said Arnolds.
“In Johannesburg we are ready, because we have had only ten Covid-19 related funerals so far. We do not plan any other preparations for graves or anything else. We’re ready. “
This comes after a symposium on Thursday chaired by Dr. Health Minister Zwele Mkhize estimated that the death toll from Covid-19 could reach as many as 40,000 by the end of this year.
It is also predicted that the country will cross the 30,000 notch in confirmed Covid-19 cases by the end of May.
Arnolds said the city’s crematoriums could handle seven cremations at a time, should that be necessary.
She added that safety precautions are in place to protect those who have to attend the funerals.
“We can do almost seven cremations at a time. We have staff, we have the capability and we have the crematoriums to do it, ”Arnolds said.
“When a corpse is being prepared for a Covid-19 burial, it is placed in three mortuary bags and taken to a cemetery in a coffin. We are already taking precautions.
“We have a machine that graves the tomb, so you don’t have 10 or 20 people using the tomb and sending it around and infecting people. I can say with ease that we are not nervous, we are not embarrassed, ”Arnolds said.
Tshwane has a document detailing his funeral plans in the city’s seven regions.
A “very extreme death scenario” plan revealed that space for 321,132 graves would be available, if there were 40,000 deaths in the subway, the document shows.
“If the extreme death rate were realized, there would not be enough space in Region 1 and someone might be buried in a different area than where he lived. . ”The document goes on.
“We had long discussions about our readiness. We also went to see. . . we would have to bury 900 people a week and what the alternatives would be if Covid-19 gets worse, ”Nawa said.