Fiery row over city’s furnaces
HE fight for the Mobeni Heights Crematorium, which has not been operating at full capacity for years because of alleged dithering by the city, has now been taken to the church.
On International Pastor’s Day last Thursday, the chairperson of the KZN Funeral Directors Association, Logan Chetty, pleaded with over 100 ministers to join in the battle for the rehabilitation of the facility.
Chetty said he’d had enough of the eThekwini Municipality’s “empty promises”.
He spoke to a packed house at Christian Revival Centre (CRC) in Crossmoor, Chatsworth, asking ministers to rally behind him. He accused city officials of dragging their feet on getting the second furnace operating.
“It is going on to the seventh year that the crematorium has not been fully functional. Why must the community suffer for so long?”
Chetty said it becomes difficult to turn away people, especially pastors who request the use of the crematorium. He feared the sole functioning furnace might break too.
“The crematorium can only do four cremations a day. I had a meeting with the city manager, who claims he is in the dark regarding the crematorium.
“I spoke to the cemetery manager and she said everything is going smoothly, that hopefully by the end of September we can start with the project.”
But it’s October already and there was no sign of a project, he said.
“These people are messing us around. They push us from one department to another and we as ratepayers are not asking for this service for free, we are paying very high rates in this area. But we still have to suffer while these guys are squandering all our monies. Something has to be done.”
He said he had asked Paul Lutchman, the founder and chief executive of CRC, for an opportunity to address the pastor fraternity.
Too often, bereaved families had to be sent to Clare Estate and Verulam to cremate their loved ones, Chetty said.
“This is costing people a lot of money, and many families don’t have the money to spend close to R3 000 for cremation.”
He said a cremation at the privately owned Clare Estate uMgeni Hindu Crematorium costs around R2 000, Stellawood R3 500 and Verulam around R1 500. Mobeni was the cheapest at R660.
“Look at the saving, yet our people are being thrown from pillar to post. I’ve spoken to so many people yet nothing is being done.”
Chetty urged the pastors to help add pressure on the municipality for results.
“We as community members in Chatsworth should stand up. As a church we should stand up and make our voices heard. We need to do something to get the ball rolling. We cannot afford to wait any longer.”
Lutchman proposed that the municipality be brought to its knees through legal action.
“The community of Chatsworth are paying extremely high rates. The facilities in the area are rundown and deplorable.
“My opinion is that the municipality’s date has expired. They have no administration. It’s time for them to leave office, and get someone with the expertise in administration… We need a legal team to open a separate account where we pay our rates into, until the municipality delivers. I am seriously appealing to all legal professionals to oppose the municipality – the rot that has set in.
The DA’s KZN chief whip, councillor Sharon Hoosen, said she had consulted with city officials over the years to no avail.
The unresolved issue at the Mobeni Heights Crematorium was fast becoming unbearable for the community who rely heavily on the cremation services, she said.
“For more than five years now, the city has deprived the community by not finalising contractors who have the correct CIBD grading to upgrade and repair the furnaces.
“This left the community frustrated and forced to use private facilities at a much higher cost.”
Added Hoosen: “It cannot be right to allow families who are in mourning to be concerned about the lack of services that is being provided by the city.”
The municipality’s head of communications, Tozi Mthethwa, confirmed a new furnace was on its way.
“The Mobeni Heights Crematorium is currently operational. The crematory will be replaced this financial year,” she said.
Funeral Directors Association chairman Logan Chetty speaks to the head of the Christian Revival Centre, Paul Lutchman, as Pastor Owen James looks on.