Crematorium bookings in overdrive as Covid-19 deaths surge in Durban
By Thobeka Ngema 23m ago
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Durban – CLARE Estate Umgeni Hindu Crematorium is fully booked until Wednesday, with Thursday being the next available day, and demand has caused the crematorium to increase working hours and create a shift system to accommodate grieving families.
Over the weekend the crematorium conducted more than 50 cremations.
On Saturday and Sunday at least 27 and 24 cremations respectively were carried out.
Every day a list of the day's cremations is put up and recently, two names are written on each line of the list.
Chairperson Deepanand Nundkissore said for about two weeks they increased their operating hours because the number of Covid-19 funerals had increased drastically.
“Before we were doing between three and four but now we’re averaging between eight to 12 per day,” said Nundkissore.
He said daily they were now conducting between 25 and 30 cremations.
One day they did about 29 or 30 cremations.
“We start Covid-19 funerals from 8am to about 10am, then from 10am to about 4pm we do normal funerals and from 4pm or 5pm, we start Covid-19 funerals again and that can go until about 10pm,” said Nundkissore.
“We’ve done a cremation at 10pm which means the ashes will be ready at about midnight. Sometimes people come the next day to collect the ashes.”
He said they had five furnaces and three halls and they were doing their best.
He also said their machines were taking a hammering and their staff were now arriving in staggered shifts.
“We’re booked right until Wednesday. If somebody passes away today (Monday) they will only cremate on Thursday,” said Nundkissore.
He said the Verulam Crematorium was doing a number of cremations, about 10 to 15 daily but Clare Estate was doing a bulk of the cremations.
Dhayalan Moodley of Isipingo Funeral Services said the crematorium deserved a thank you because it was bending over backwards to provide a service.
Moodley said the crematorium operated from 7am until as late as 11pm.
“It’s so bad and the municipal-run Mobeni Heights Crematorium hasn’t come to the party,” said Moodley.
He said the families were suffering, having to bury loved ones either very early or very late. They were stretching their operating hours to accommodate families.
Moodley said on Sunday at least another 24 cremations were conducted at the crematorium.
“It’s going to increase because people are not adhering to the regulations,” said Moodley.
Pinetown Funeral Services director Clive Moodley said they were coping but the crematorium was not.
“We’re getting dates about two days later,” said Moodley.
He said it was a pity the municipal crematorium (Mobeni Heights) has been closed for years. Covid-19 started in March and the city could have fixed the crematorium by now.
“This is putting more strain on private crematoriums, and there are only two in Durban,” said Moodley.
Wyebank Funeral Services director Lennie Reddy said they were also coping, there was no escalation on their side and they were not facing any challenges.
Meanwhile, in March 2018, former eThekwini Municipality mayor Zandile Gumede said two sites had been identified for crematoria in Phoenix and Umkomaas.