Cemetery filling up fast
At an average of 200 deaths handled in George per month, the three local cemeteries will be full in about two years’ time.
According to Community Services Director Walter Hendricks, the George Municipality is in the process of identifying suitable land for a new cemetery. The George (York Street), Thembalethu and Touwsranten cemeteries are currently in use.
“The land space required is about 50 to 79 hectares. Based on current burial trends this should be adequate for another estimated
30 to 40 years. As suitable land is likely to be outside the current George urban edge, the municipality may be engaging with Eden District Municipality in this regard,” said Hendricks.
The municipality is investigating the possibility of financial subsidies or incentives for cremation instead of burials as well as the establishment of memory niche walls, to lessen the impact on cemeteries. Most burials are done in the York Street cemetery. Out of the 200 people dying monthly, an average of 120 are cremated. “These figures include deaths from over the Southern Cape as there is currently only one crematorium in the region. The fact that the region is a popular retirement destination also contributes to deaths in the region.”
Myron Rabinowitz, chairman of the Garden Route Jewish Association, said they will continue to use the cemetery since cremation is against Jewish belief.
According to three funeral businesses approached for comment, cremation is an option chosen mostly by white people. It is against the customs of black people and people of the Islamic faith.
Out of the 200 people dying monthly, an average of 120 are cremated.
Within the coloured communities clients would occasionally request a cremation.
Elsebé Crous, manager of
Olivier and Vermeulen Funeral Services, said they are recording a significant increase in the number of cremations among their clients. “From January to June this year, we had an average of 19 cremations compared with 17 burials. I think factors such as vandalism to graves and poor security at the cemeteries contribute to this trend.”
Many churches have walls of remembrance where ashes can be stored. “Some people prefer to scatter their loved ones’ ashes. Some keep the ashes at home or erect a stone in a private corner of their garden.”
Unity Aldalgamony, owner of Pacaltsdorp Funeral Services, agreed that the trend of cremation is more prevalent among white people. “This is despite the fact that graves are expensive and people feel increasingly unsafe when visiting their loved ones’ last resting place because of poor security. When it rains, the George cemetery is also muddy and messy.”
Gert Niehaus, councillor and Avbob owner, said providing security is proving to be challenging as fences do not keep villains out. Undertakers have recently had a meeting with the municipality where matters such as a permanent caretaker for the York Street cemetery as well as beautifying of the entrance were discussed.
More land will be needed for cemeteries in the near future, as the current site is getting full.