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City working to mitigate looming burial site shortages
​The City currently only has about 5000 vacant burial
sites and is working around the clock to mitigate the
looming shortage.
THE City is working around the clock to manage the looming shortage of burial space. Head of Parks, Recreation and Culture Unit Thembinkosi Ngcobo said the City currently has less than 5000 vacant burial sites which will be filled to capacity in about six months.

He said the Unit will soon implement a pilot project in one the City’s old cemeteries, Loon Road Cemeteries where a permanent resting place will be created for the preservation of recycled human remains. “The Loon Road Cemeteries is more than 80 years old and inactive. It has about 12 000 grave sites. Our proposal, which was accepted a few years ago, was that we want to pilot a project that after every 10 years, we exhume human remains and store them in small containers, similar to an ashes urn,” said Ngcobo. He said while the shortage of burial sites was not unique to Durban, the challenge was that a majority of people still prefer underground burial which has led to the current situation.

There are stringent requirements for the establishment of a graveyard and land suitable for such services is scarce, said Ngcobo. “Re-use of grave sites is not new. It was always done from way back. In some of the cemeteries, each site holds an average of three bodies but the challenge with recycling is that if it keeps being done in the same land, the soil gets exhausted and is therefore note conducive for the body to decompose,” he explained.

Ngcobo said it is crucial for churches and community leaders to have an open discussion about alternative burials such as cremation. “I understand that burial alternatives such as cremation and recycling are considered inconsistent with religious and cultural beliefs, but at the same time it is important for people to realise the current problem and the need to lay to rest loved ones,” he said.
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