Mourners adhere to lockdown regulations

Family and close friends pay tribute to the life Thandekile Mdlalo. Picture: Fanie Jason

The Covid-19 lockdown regulations have changed the way funerals are conducted in the townships since President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the outbreak of coronavirus infections a national disaster last month.

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gazetted further amendments to the regulations on the Covid-19 lockdown in order to flatten the infection curve.

The amendments allow certain individuals to move between provinces, metropolitan and district areas for the purposes of transporting a body for burial purposes.

The amendment also limits the individuals who are permitted to travel to funerals.

The current prohibition of 50 persons attending a funeral is still in effect.

The holding of night vigils is still prohibited.

Last week Vukani attended two funerals in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha, where, in both instances, families were obeying the regulations.

In some cases the numbers of mourners was slightly more than allowed and the police could be seen enforcing the regulation by making sure that only 50 people proceeded to the gravesite.

Thandekile Mdlalo, a rugby legend who made his name while playing for the Buffaloes and Western Province, was buried on Saturday and his family had to adhere to strict conditions.

He had been ill for a long time and had not died of the coronavirus.

Police were making their rounds, monitoring funerals in the townships to ensure they were not attended by too many people and that only immediate family members were going to the cemetery.

Everyone, including the grave diggers, were given masks and gloves, had their hands sanitised and were encouraged to practice physical distancing.

Meanwhile, at another funeral in Khayelitsha, most of those who attended were women and children who struggled to cover the grave.

“People are scared to attend funerals now because of the virus and the lockdown regulations,” said one of the relatives, Primrose Siga.

She said there were fewer than 20 people at their funeral and it was very sad to see “young children filling up the grave”.

Meanwhile, Marius du Plessis, AVBOB’s group communication manager, said when comparing options chosen by different racial groups, their black South African clients had the most expensive funeral cover but the needs of each family varied.

“A very basic funeral may cost around R10 000 but many people then decide to spend more on the coffin or casket, they wish to add family cars, fresh flowers or flower arrangements, catering, house tents and as a result the costs can escalate quite significantly,” he said.

Mr Du Plessis said even though the lockdown had changed the way they conducted business, none of their clients had cancelled due to unnecessary expenses or because of the regulations in place.

“There has not been an increase in the number of clients considering a reduction or down scaling of their funeral cover,” Mr Du Plessis said.

“Since the lockdown, the group has conducted approximately
2 500 funerals.”