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Land identified for cemeteries in eThekwini
IN A BID to solve Durban’s burial space crisis, eThekwini Municipality has set aside about R216 million to procure three sites which will be utilised as cemeteries. This was revealed during the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) hearing held on 15 March, at Protea Edward Hotel in Durban.

The Municipality has identified suitable burial land in Vulamehlo, Cato Ridge and Hammarsdale. It is envisaged that the new cemetery sites will last at least 50 years before they fill up. Two sites have been identified for crematoria in Phoenix and uMkhomazi. EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said that the shortage of burial space in eThekwini was a serious challenge which the Municipality had been dealing with for years. “Migration to the city from rural areas and outside the country is increasing. This has led to over-crowding in urban areas,” said Mayor Gumede.

Gumede added that the City was aware and respected the religious and cultural beliefs of residents who do not believe in alternative burial methods. As a result, she said the Municipality was trying its best to identify suitable land that could be used for cemeteries. “We believe that expropriation of land without compensation will assist us in addressing the shortage of burial space challenge we are currently grappling with in the near future,” said Mayor Gumede.

Speaking about the policy on the re-use of gravesites, the Chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xalavu said that although she understood that the shortage of burial space was a serious challenge facing the Municipality, but it was important to always put the rights of the citizens first, regardless of the class. It was also noted that of the 65 existing cemeteries within the Municipal area, 54 had already reached their capacity. 
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