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Cemetery restrictions to remain in force after lockdown

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says the current restrictions at the city cemeteries should continue after the national lockdown as part of measures to prevent congestion during burials. 

 As part of its measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, the local authority imposed a limit of 30 people during burials.

Backfilling of graves is now being done by the municipal staff and not members of the public. 

According to the latest Health, Housing and Education Committee report tabled before a full council meeting on Wednesday Ward 10 Councillor Sinikiwe Mutanda said mourners should attend funeral services instead of congregating at the cemetery. 

“The current restrictions at the City’s cemeteries should continue after lockdown. Residents should be encouraged to attend burial services at home, parlour and church thereafter a limited number should proceed to the cemetery,” said Mutanda. 

Ward 17 Councilor Sikhululekile Moyo supported the idea of limitation of mourners even after lockdown as the local authority was now providing the grave backfilling services. 

Councilor Moyo, however, raised concerns that residents were shying away from cremation due to the exorbitant charges.   

In 2018, the City fathers had mooted the idea of mandatory cremation for people aged 25 years and below as it grappled with a shortage of burial space. 

According to the latest council minutes, a total of seven cremations were done in April 2020. 

Meanwhile, BCC Director of Health Services, Dr Edwin Sibanda urged residents to adhere to the limitations at cemeteries.

“Residents should be cultured to maintain the limited numbers at the cemeteries even after lockdown,” said Dr Sibanda. 

He added that the current cremation facilities were operated by a private player making it hard for the local authority to control the costs. 

“Council had long purchased a cremator which was awaiting delivery. The issue of the cremator had been raised with the Covid-19 National Taskforce led by the Vice President Kembo Mohadi, The South African government has also been engaged,” he said. 

In addition, the Chamber Secretary, Sikhangele Zhou said the delivery of the cremator from South Africa was subject to legal procedures. 

“The delivery of the cremator from South Africa is subject to legal procedures which could be clarified as the lockdown restrictions in both cemeteries were relaxed to allow law firms and courts to function,” said Zhou. 

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