Health Dept warns that funeral strike could lead to public health risk


Johannesburg – The Department of Health has warned that the upcoming funeral strike could have serious repercussions for public health.

“This is very concerning as this action may lead to undesired conditions and risks to public health,” said the department in a statement released by spokesperson Popo Maja on Sunday.

The call for the shutdown was led by the Unification Task Team (UTT) – a group of 17 funeral associations and forums and was planned to begin on Monday, 14 September until Wednesday, 16 September.

During the planned shutdown, there would be no removal of bodies from hospitals or homes and there would be no burials, UTT coordinator, Peter Matlatle said.

UTT added that the South African government had not done enough to ensure the industry was diverse and transformed. It added that since 1994, the industry was still dominated by “white minority capital” and a handful of “black elites”.

“Environmental Health Practitioners are and will continue to conduct inspections in all funeral undertakers’ premises in the country to check compliance to the regulations. Legal action will be taken against owners of premises found to be in contravention,” Maja said.

He also added that family members were urged to check the legitimacy of the undertakers and agents being used for overall management of the burial of their loved ones to ensure proper tracking and tracing and that the remains are handled with dignity and with the law.

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