Ban on gath­er­ings af­fect­ing funeral in­dus­try


BUSI­NESSES in the funeral in­dus­try have taken a knock as a re­sult of the coron­avirus out­break in South Africa as cus­tomer can­cel­la­tions in­crease.

Themba Makamo, co-owner of Manyano Memo­ri­als, a tomb­stone man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness, said the com­pany had about 20 or­ders can­celled in the past two weeks.

“We also have a lot of fam­i­lies who had al­ready planned their un­veil­ing so there were stones that we erected last year… Those fam­i­lies are now in a sit­u­a­tion where they ei­ther have to can­cel or con­tinue but take into con­sid­er­a­tion the re­stric­tions,” he said.

Makamo added that the com­pany was also con­cerned be­cause Easter was con­sid­ered the tomb­stone un­veil­ing sea­son. “The prob­lem for us is that we only have this one sea­son… once it gets past win­ter peo­ple don’t come and buy tomb­stones for un­veil­ings so we have to wait for next year,” he said.

Di­rec­tor at Kings and Queens Funeral Ser­vices Mlan­deli Mad­lala said the funeral par­lour chain had taken pre­cau­tion­ary measures in its branches; how­ever its cus­tomer flow has di­min­ished be­cause of Covid-19 re­stric­tions on gath­er­ings.

The Na­tional Funeral Prac­ti­tioner’s As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa will to­day meet with the De­part­ment of Health and stake­hold­ers in Dur­ban to be briefed on the im­pact of Covid-19 on the funeral busi­ness.

“If we get hit like Italy with so many deaths a day, how are we go­ing to man­age? We want to know from the gov­ern­ment what role it is go­ing to play in terms of as­sist­ing us as an in­dus­try to con­tain the virus?” sec­re­tary-gen­eral Julie Mbuthuma asked.

Pro­fes­sor Keertan Dheda, head of the di­vi­sion of pul­monology at the Univer­sity of Cape Town, said body flu­ids such as nasal se­cre­tions, saliva, urine and stools can con­tain the virus, hence rit­u­als where fam­ily mem­bers wash the de­ceased’s body is dis­cour­aged. “Fam­ily mem­bers wish­ing to be in­volved in wash­ing the body should do it un­der the guid­ance of the mor­ti­cian at the funeral home and it should be done with per­sonal pro­tec­tion equip­ment in­clud­ing gloves, gog­gles and an ap­pro­pri­ate mask,” he said.

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