GEORGE NEWS - The precautionary measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19 announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 15 March included a clear ban on all gatherings of more than 100 people.
This includes funerals that cannot be cancelled or postponed. However, some churches, including one in Thembalethu, are openly flouting the ban, saying that they will proceed with big gatherings.
Pastor Boyce Saleni of the Baptist Church in Thembalethu said, "We are still continuing with big funerals where there are more than 100 people because it is very difficult to restrict people not to come to a funeral".
he ban is hard to police, especially in townships where people strongly believe in paying their last respects to the deceased and supporting the deceased's family. However, at one of the local churches, funeral-goers were asked to leave the buildings by law enforcement officials / police, leaving only family members inside the church
Most churches try to accommodate their congregations in other ways. A family from George who lost their loved ones, a married couple, in a tragic accident two weekends ago, held a memorial service last Thursday evening at a church in Pacaltsdorp and live-streamed the moving service to other family members and friends who could not attend.
Only close family members of the couple attended the service at Eagles Nest Ministries International.
Funerals for coronavirus victims
The president of the National Funeral Practitioners of SA, Muzi Hlengwa, on Tuesday said there will be strict measures for funerals as Covid-19 is spreading rapidly.
Hlengwa said South Africans could face severe restrictions, from the method of collecting and storing bodies at undertakers to identifying bodies. Strict protocols are in place in the event of Covid-19-infected bodies brought to funeral parlours.
"All confirmed bodies with the coronavirus should be treated with high caution. These bodies should not be placed together with other bodies. There should be separate areas for these bodies in mortuary facilities."
Funeral parlours would also use more body bags for infected bodies, and not just one as they normally do. Traditions, such as viewing the body, will not be allowed. There will be no viewing of the bodies at home or during church services.
"These bodies won't go as normal to the families a night before. There will be no night vigils with bodies."
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