Illegal burials robbing families of dignified funerals

Funeral are a multi-million rand industry where funeral undertakers are out to make a killing by laying our loved ones to rest. As a final display of our love for the dearly departed, families often spend a lot of money to pay their respects to the deceased. Sadly, in the process of burying their loved ones, many residents in Emfuleni have fallen prey to unregistered funeral undertakers.

This is the most dangerous kind, operating without compliance documents and making a quick buck from the sorrow and pain of bereaved families. Undocumented burial companies are nothing new in Emfuleni, with the municipality in the past declaring there were over 600 operating undertakers with only less than 10% of these properly registered and in possession of certificates of competence.

It is these unscrupulous undertakers who often mislead families into burying loved ones in illegal burials. Municipal investigations have uncovered in the past how some families have buried their loved ones on land that was not officially demarcated as a graveyard, meaning such burials were never recorded by the municipality. This leads to a situation where records held by families are not consistent with those in the possession of the municipality, leading to chaos when families attempt to erect tombstones.

Families must never allow funeral undertaker to bury their deceased illegally, meaning without paying and registering the death with the municipality. The municipality continues to urge bereaved families to register their deceased themselves with proper deification.

  • Residents must register their deceased family members at the municipal offices at Adanta Building in Vereeniging
  • Residents must be able to produce a copy of proof of payment
  • Residents must visit the grave a day prior to the burial to ascertain where the burial will be conducted.
  • Also demand receipts of the grave payment and registrations
  • Illegal, un-procedural and unregistered funerals or tombstone-erections will be stopped at the cost of the undertaker.

Emfuleni residents are encouraged to use only the undertakers which are issued with a valid Certificate of Competence by the Department of Social Development and Health. Such a certificate is not transferable at all.

One legal funeral undertaker would use his/her certificate of compliance for the benefit of other undertakers who do not possess the certificate, directly contravening our regulation in that the certificate is not transferable. We were further appalled by the conditions under which they store deceased bodies and want to warn them that if they continue we are going to revoke their certificates of compliance and close them down.

We would unconditionally discredit this illegal practice and urge communities to reject un-registered undertakers. This will greatly assist them burying their loved ones in a dignified, respectable and legal way.

By Wandisile Kunene

Important Numbers