Funeral parlours battle to prevent bodies from decomposing due to rolling blackouts


Funeral parlours struggle to prevent bodies from decomposing as Eskom’s rolling blackouts continue. Picture: supplied
Funeral parlours struggle to prevent bodies from decomposing as Eskom’s rolling blackouts continue. Picture: supplied


By: Lerato Ngwenya


Funeral parlours from Soweto, south of Johannesburg, are fighting to slow the decay of corpses due to increased load-shedding.


Many funeral parlours have been impacted by the power outages as the nation struggles to transition between stage five and stage six load-shedding. At stage five, the parlours are out of power for at least six hours without power per day, possibly in two-hour cycles. Funeral parlours, whose main job is to preserve and care for bodies until burial, are having trouble with the blackouts.


Fray.news spoke to Nhlanhla Bembe, Chairperson Southern African Chamber of Undertakers about what is currently transpiring across the country’s funeral parlours.


“It has been very costly storing human beings, the industry under regulations of the country says if you have a mortuary, you need to have a backup generator.” said Bembe.


With the frequent blackouts, the daily access to electricity is severely constrained. Undertakers are taking strain. "It has become too expensive to store human beings, as we all know petrol and diesel have become very expensive,” said Bembe.


Moeletsi Tau from Motse Funerals said loadshedding has affected them negatively. Not only in keeping bodies cold, but also in performing basic admin. “We can’t process claims and invoices for our clients as everything has to be doubled or triple checked, and that alone is tiring,” said Tau.


Generators are not meant for long-term use in keeping bodies cold, but only a stopgap for short power outages. The generators do not generate sufficient power to keep the bodies cold enough.


Tau also echoed Bembe’s complaints about the increased costs faced by undertakers. “We pay at least R100 a day for fuel, and it’s very expensive.” he said.


The industry needs urgent intervention from government. “These are some of the issues we will be discussing at our indaba in November to make sure our government comes to the party.” said Tau.

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