Residents urged to adhere to cemetery by-laws

Grave consequences

It is common practice among many South Africans to wish to maintain the connection with their deceased relatives, which is vividly displayed at cemeteries, crematoriums, and particularly during burials.

Since the cemetery is a shared space for all communities, the City of Ekurhuleni has a responsibility to ensure that people using the cemetery have due regard of fellow users.

To this end, the city’s cemetery and crematorium by-laws outline the limitations and parameters set to promote peaceful, communal use of these important facilities, said Themba Gadebe, spokesperson for the metro.

“In terms of the by-laws, gardening and general care of cemeteries are the responsibility of the city.

“Accordingly, any upkeep of graves should not include planting, erection, placing or leaving upon a grave any object or decoration. The only exception is within the first 30 days after interment when wreaths are traditionally laid as a symbol of remembrance. No person other than the cemetery officer is allowed to plant a tree or shrubs in any section of the cemetery.

“These by-laws also regulate the depth, length and width of grave excavations. The material of a coffin is also regulated in that it should be either in natural wood or a perishable material. The coffins for cremations must be constructed of mainly timber or wood derivatives,” Gadebe added.

Those that require, as part of their religious rituals, to take an animal to the cemetery must seek permission from the cemetery officer before doing so.

During funerals the cemetery officer has the discretion to allow or prevent any type of music that is unseemly or unsuitable for a funeral.

Contravention of the cemetery and crematorium by-laws, including disregarding the directions of the cemetery officer, is an offence punishable by imprisonment or a fine, or both, said Gadebe.

MMC for Environment and Waste Management Clr Ndosi Shongwe calls on all residents and entities in Ekurhuleni to abide by the by-laws.

“The by-laws must not be seen as a hindrance to practices that people have grown used to. They serve a societal role of promoting cohesion in communities and providing solutions to the challenges of a developing community, such as decreasing burial space.

“The by-laws make provision for second and third interments for families that want to bury their dead in one grave,” Shongwe said.

Tombstones and other forms of memorial work cannot be erected on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays or after hours (between 4pm and 7am) and the city is not liable for the damage or theft of any memorial work.

The comprehensive by-laws can be found on the City of Ekurhuleni website and can be downloaded for ease of reference.

Complaints and queries or suggestions regarding cemeteries or the crematorium must be addressed in writing to the Divisional Head: Parks and Cemeteries or logged at the call centre on 0860 543 000.

  AUTHOR
Tembisan

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