Cof­fin hits a dead end at ceme­tery

BCM grave -dig­gers refuse to bury used empty cas­ket de­spite prior ap­proval

Daily Dispatch - - News - TYLER RIDDIN

In a macabre, “one-in-a-mil­lion” protest, Buf­falo City ceme­tery work­ers re­fused to bury an empty cof­fin in the Haven Hills ceme­tery this week.

Af­ter much dis­cus­sion and ne­go­ti­a­tion, the cof­fin was even­tu­ally re­moved by funeral par­lour, Avbob, who owned the cas­ket, and dis­posed of as med­i­cal waste.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened on Mon­day, when Avbob ar­rived with the cas­ket – and of­fi­cial per­mis­sion to bury it – at Haven Hills.

Work­ers had ob­jected, said Buf­falo City Metro spokesper­son Samkelo Ng­wenya, who said their po­si­tion, that they [work­ers] would not bury an empty cof­fin in the grave­yard was “un­der­stand­able”.

Avbob’s group com­mu­ni­ca­tion man­ager Mar­ius du Plessis, said a fam­ily had changed their mind about the cof­fin they were pur­chas­ing, af­ter the body had al­ready been placed in the cof­fin.

How­ever, Ng­wenya said there was some le­gal con­fu­sion be­cause the metro by­laws lacked clar­ity or guide­lines on bury­ing an empty cas­ket in a mu­nic­i­pal grave­yard.

Ng­wenya said that BCM’s ceme­ter­ies man­age­ment had given the go-ahead, but work­ers had re­fused to do so. He said it would have helped if Avbob had lodged an of­fi­cial ap­pli­ca­tion for the process, so that there was a pa­per trail. He noted that while the city did have ex­perts on the dis­posal of waste, none worked in the ceme­ter­ies de­part­ment.

Ng­wenya said this was a “one in a mil­lion” case but that the city would learn from it.

Du Plessis said it was com­pany pol­icy to de­stroy coffins which had been used, but the cof­fin was steel, and could not be in­cin­er­ated.

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

NOT HERE: BCM ceme­tery work­ers re­fused to bury this empty cas­ket that had al­ready been used.

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