OPINION: Move threatens burial customs

Phiri Cawe

If you’re a soccer fan, you’ll know how much heartbreak an own goal can cause.

In Colombia, Andrés Escobar paid with his life when he scored an own goal in the 1994 World Cup as he tried to stop a cross ball. The Colombian captain was subsequently shot dead by a soccer-mad individual who felt Escobar had failed not only the national team, but his entire country.

Closer to home, our own Pierre Issa scored two own goals – in one the World Cup, nogal.

And in my opinion, the Western Cape scored an own goal of a different kind when it entered into an agreement with the Eastern Cape recently to restrict the transportation of bodies of people who died from Covid-19 between the two provinces.

How on earth could the Western Cape agree that people from the Eastern Cape who die here, should be buried here when we are already facing a severe shortage of burial space?

In recent media reports, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane is quoted as saying that funerals and the transportation from the Western Cape, of those who died of Covid-19 are a major cause of the increasing number of infections in the Eastern Cape.

I feel that Western Cape Premier Alan Winde should consider revisiting that agreement.

Had he proposed that, you can guess what would have happened. The whole country would now be on his case and that of the Democratic Alliance, which he represents.

But it seems people are okay with the idea because the proposal came from the Eastern Cape premier.

Why did Mr Winde allow himself to be bullied that way – or does he really believe that the Western Cape is responsible for the increase in the number of Covid-19 infections?

How did he allow Mr Mabuyane to use the “Covid-19 scapegoats” instead of educating the man?

I hear there is talk of allowing families who have buried their loved ones in the Western Cape, to exhume the bodies after the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic has passed.

But who knows when that will be? And how will poor families afford the process of exhuming and transporting bodies back to the Eastern Cape?

Instead of fighting the common enemy – Covid-19 –
Mr Mabuyane has been pointing fingers at the Western Cape. And to support his proposal that the transportation of bodies between the two provinces not be allowed, he drew reference to soldiers who die at war and are buried where they die. He forgets that we are not at war – and overlooks the fact that he is threatening the customs associated with death and burials.

Black people don’t just bury someone. There are practises done irrespective of whether one died of Covid-19 or in a car accident. Who is he to proclaim that people should be buried in eKapa? One wonders if this applies to all other provinces.

Will those who passed on in those provinces be buried there too? We’ll have to wait and see.

Lafa izwe lakowethu. What amazes in this whole situation is the quietness of all political parties. Do they agree with this? What about the traditional leaders?

The Mabuyane team won the game in the referee’s added time. Let’s see how is it going to celebrate the win going forward.