The Unification Task Team, UTT, which represents seventeen funeral associations across the country announced a national shutdown as part of its strategy to engage government about its list of demands…
According to a report on News24, there would be no removal of bodies from hospitals or homes and no burials during the national shutdown.
The UTT is demanding transformation in the funeral sector which it says is dominated by white-owned businesses and a few “black elites.”
It also wants undertakers who share storage facilities to qualify for ownership of the certificate of competence for that particular facility.
Undertakers are required by law to be in possession of a certificate of competence for their premises in order to operate.
The sector insists that a portion of the Covid-19 relief funds should be allocated to undertakers.
However, although the Funeral Federation of South Africa (FFSA), supports many of the UTT’s demands, it refuses to get involved in the shutdown.
The undertakers Task Team (UTT) in Soweto has embarked on a shutdown which is set to last for 3 days. UTT’s Muzi Magubane says from today no bodies will be collected from all Government mortuaries, private, private hospitals & homes. He says no funerals will be conducted. pic.twitter.com/fnWkaWSYj8
— Jozi FM (@jozifm) September 14, 2020
In a statement, the FFSA wrote that it does not want to abandon its loyal clients, many of whom are like family.
“We do not see how it can be justifiable that when they need us the most we can turn around and tell them we cannot assist them because we have issues with the government and how our industry is regulated.”
The FFSA went on to say: “It is these people, in some instances, the most indigent amongst us that rely on our services and there is no reason strong enough to justify the inhumane treatment that we will be meeting out to them with this shutdown.”
The federation reiterated its backing of the UTT demands which it believes should be addressed by the government.
The SA Funeral Practitioner’s Association (SAFPA) also said that it would be operating to “serve our people and engage as leadership to find solutions to the challenges we currently face.”
The health department is worried about the health implications of undertakers not removing bodies from homes and hospitals.
Health department spokesperson Popo Maja said: “This is very concerning as this action may lead to undesired conditions and risks to public health.”
“We further call upon members of the public to report any illegal operations to ensure the public can be protected from potential risks and the spread of communicable diseases as a result of poor management of human remains.”
Maja said: “The Department of Health is willing to continue with talks with the funeral parlour sector to come to an amicable solution.”
Muzi Hlengwa of the National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA says that family’s who need to bury during the week will not be affected. One of their demands include outsourced mortuary services #NationalFuneralParloursStrike @TimesLIVE @yasantha pic.twitter.com/Igp89EPBWL
— Lwandile Bhengu (@Lwandi_N) September 14, 2020
Read the full statement from the FFSA below:
NATIONAL FUNERAL INDUSTRY SHUTDOWN PROPOSED FOR 14 SEPTEMBER 2020
Following a virtual meeting held this morning, the Funeral Federation of South Africa (FFSA) has taken a principled decision not to support the national shutdown that has been called from Monday 14 September 2020. This decision is based on the following reasons:
- The funeral industry is an essential service that is critical in our country;
- Our services are geared towards assisting members of the public and our clients in their most critical hour of need and they depend on our services to deal with the grief that they would be going through at that time;
- Some, if not all, of our clients have been loyal to our various businesses for more than a decade and we have become a part of each other’s families. We do not see how it can be justifiable that when they need us the most we can turn around and tell them we cannot assist them because we have issues with the government and how our industry is regulated; and finally
- It is these people, in some instances, the most indigent amongst us that rely on our services and there is no reason strong enough to justify the inhumane treatment that we will be meeting out to them with this shutdown.
Having said this, we also acknowledge that the list of DEMANDS that have been put forward are reasonable and are concerns that the industry has been complaining about since time immemorial. We agree with the demands as set forth and strongly believe that they should be addressed with the Government.
We further acknowledge that the industry in South Africa needs to be properly regulated and the rules of engagement streamlined to ensure that there is, not only, equality and clear rules but that meaningful transformation of the industry can occur.
It is unfortunate that we have a government that is sometimes hard of hearing and that citizens and civil society are pushed to the point of desperation before any meaningful action is taken. It is our view that this is a government that the majority of South African citizens have voted for and that there shouldn’t be a need to shutdown anything if only there was constructive engagement between the industry and the various government departments that impact on us.
As the FFSA we do not condone any threats of violence and intimidation that are circulating on Social Media. The shutdown is intended to be a peaceful protest and as per the official communication from the Unification Task Team (UTT). We however encourage all our affiliate members to exercise caution and not provoke any unnecessary confrontation.
The associations represented by the FFSA are:
- NFDA – National Funeral Directors’ Association of Southern Africa
- SAFPA – South African Funeral Practitioners Association
- FIPSA – Funeral Industry Practitioners of South Africa
- UFDA – United Funeral Directors Association
- NUASA – National Undertakers Association of South Africa
- SAFA – South African Funeral Alliance
- PFDA – Private Funeral Directors Association
- FUDASA – Funeral Directors Association of South Africa
- IFDA – Independent Funeral Directors Association