Phoenix crematorium ‘better off’ in private hands
THE eThekwini Municipality has admitted it does not have staff with the right skills to properly run a crematorium.
Its running of the Mobeni Heights Crematorium has often been criticised when furnaces constantly pack up with lengthy delays in fixing them. Now, the municipality has decided it might be best to leave its new planned crematorium in Phoenix in private hands.
The municipality’s head of cemeteries and crematoria, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, said the decision was made following discussions with the private sector.
“We listened when we were told that the private sector would have better skills to run a crematorium, as we don’t have employees with the skills that would be able to,” he told POST.
“However, it is a win-win situation. As the public sector, we made the land available at no cost.
“It will be run by the private sector for 30 years and then be handed back to municipality, and by that time we would have acquired the skills needed to run the crematorium.”
The proposed private crematorium has, however, received mixed reactions from residents and various stakeholders, with concerns expressed that it would mainly cater for the wealthy.
Municipal crematoriums charge between R360 and R690 while private facilities usually charge more than double this.
The chairperson of the KZN Funeral Directors Association, Logan Chetty, said that the Phoenix crematorium would ease the strain on other facilities. However, he believes the new facility should be constructed and managed by the city.
Woodview Ratepayers Association executive member Devon Singh feared that a private crematorium would only be utilised by the wealthy, saying many local residents earned below the minimum wage.
“Many households have an income of less than R1 500 a month and are living on tight budgets, so when there is a death, they would not be able to afford the high amounts requested by a private crematorium,” he said. “They would also have to go to Tongaat or Mobeni Heights, which is of great inconvenience.”
Hindu priest Neresh Maharaj, of the Shiv Shakthi Sanathan Dharma Sabha in Phoenix, said it had been a long battle to get a crematorium in the township.
“My parents wrote countless letters to the municipality detailing the struggles the community faced but they never received a response. We are now truly happy there will be a crematorium in the area. The death of a family member is traumatic and having to run to other areas for cremation and waiting for a booking is costly and tiresome.”
DA councillor Lyndal Singh said population growth and the shortage of burial space was a major factor in a crematorium being approved.
“I motivated for the proposal to be approved and it is pleasing that after years of pressure by the DA, the ANC finally realised the current state of the crematoriums and the need for new ones in the city.”
MF councillor Jonathan Annipen said the development was a victory for Phoenix.
“Grieving families are often made to wait long hours, as the furnaces at the existing crematoriums are often not available. The city must be commended for this initiative.”
The eThekwini’s head of communications, Tozi Mthethwa, said the municipality was now seeking proposals from private entities within the cemeteries and crematorium sector to construct and manage the new crematorium in Phoenix.
“The proposed Phoenix crematorium will be established at Phoenix Cemetery. An advertisement requesting proposals has been circulated and some private organisations have shown interest.”
Proposals are open for a month and construction would commence as soon as the legal processes had been completed.
The site for a new crematorium in Phoenix.