coffin industry

Protesting funeral practitioners said they are preparing for a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office ahead of his address to the nation on Wednesday evening.

The Unification Task Team (UTT), which is made up of mainly black-owned funeral practitioners’ associations is on the final day of its three-day strike against the government.

The UTT said while the Health Department has conceded to their demands, other government departments have failed to do so and they now want the president’s office to intervene.

The Health Department has asked hospitals not to request certificates of competence from undertakers when they collect bodies from facilities.

But the UTT wants the president’s office to coordinate government structures that can meet its outstanding demands, which include the clearing of more land for burial sites, transferring some COVID-19 relief funds to the sector, and convening a conference to formalise the industry.

UTT’s Daniso Gumede said: “We are hoping that negotiations will go smooth and swiftly, but today was the last day of the strike. If our demands are not met and we do not agree in the meeting, we will be left with no choice but to intensify the strike.”

The Presidency has not yet responded to Eyewitness News queries on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Health Department said it’s pleased that it’s reached an amicable agreement with funeral practitioners and now hopes protests in the sector will come to an end.

The Health Department’s Murdock Ramathuba said demonstrations by UTT members in various parts of the country have had a negative impact on hospitals.

“The mortuaries are filled now, but we are pleased that there is no strike tomorrow. They will also be facilitating the removal of the human remains.”

The UTT said it would meet with the presidency today to discuss its outstanding demands which include calls to formalize the sector.

Ramathuba said they hope UTT members resolve on reopening their businesses on Thursday.

“If they are not burying, it means the human remains will not be buried. They will pile up in the health facilities and when they do pile up, it further means that the mortuaries will be overwhelmed.”

The UTT said it also wants the Presidency to facilitate the clearing of more land for burial sites.


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