JOHANNESBURG, May 27 — The South African Commission for Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities has declared that it its unconstitutional to bury unrelated people together and has threatened to bring to court local government bodies which do so.
The commission says it will take on municipalities which bury unrelated people on top of each other and has threatened to go to court if local governments continue with the practice.
After the Nigeria building collapse in Lagos in August last year, the body of Prudence Mandubu was repatriated back to South Africa and was buried on top of her brother, as was her family’s choice.
However, some municipalities, including eThekwini and Nelson Mandela Bay, are accused of depriving grieving relatives of that prerogative and of forcing some families to bury their loved ones on top of the bodies of unrelated people.
According to the Commission, this is “unAfrican and unconstitutional”. Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, the spokesperson for the commission, said: “Cultural and religious rights are a constitutional right so they are violating the constitutional rights of those communities.”
In Eastern Cape Province, the commission found 20 families had 30 soldiers buried on top of the remains of their loved ones and they claimed that they were never consulted before the soldiers were bruied in this way.
The The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) apologised, saying: “We apologise for what some municipalities have done and that this contributed to the violation of people’s rights.”
SALGA admits that metros are running out of burial space and the Ekurhuleni Municipality in Gauteng Province proposes burying unrelated people on top of each other.
However, traditional leaders are will not have this. One says, “As a traditional leader, we don’t allow that at all. I think it is respecting the dead by giving them their own space, and i think we have plenty land in South Africa to do that.”
The Commission also wants national legislation to be passed on this matter.