Fiery row over city’s fur­naces

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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.

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