South Africa’s Funeral Practitioners To Begin Strike On Monday

Funeral parlour owners in South Africa will on Monday begin a three-day strike action after calls from the industry for the outsourcing of mortuary facilities to be recognised as legal have gone unanswered by the government.

Muzi Hlengwa, the head of the 3,000-strong National Funeral Practitioners of South Africa (Nafupa), said he has written a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa outlining the concerns of his members but it went unanswered.

He added that since there was no response forthcoming, they were left with no choice but to engage in strike action.

“We haven’t heard from government, we are still waiting. Actually, as an organisation and industry, we are not happy that the situation has to come to a point like this. Nobody wants to have a strike,” he said speaking to eNCA on Sunday 13 September.

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“We are businesspeople, if we are not working, we are not making money, Our clients will also not get the services they deserve,” he said. “but if push comes to shove, there’s nothing else we can do.”

He said that the shutdown – to begin on Monday 14 September and run until Wednesday 16 September – will involve a total downing of tools.

“As from Monday we will down tools, there will be no removal of anybody who dies, whether they die at home or at a hospital, there will be no funerals conducted and all our offices and mortuaries will be closed.”

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Hlengwa accused “bigger players” in the funeral industry, who are commissioned by government to handle major state funerals as well as the current backlog of work brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, of price inflation and corruption.

“The issue is with the government and with the bigger players in the funeral industry. You have a situation where a selected few companies are taking every job that comes through, particularly state funerals,” he said.

“You’ll find that one company has conducted all of the state funerals we have had this year, and the amount of corruption there is something that we can no longer sit back and watch.”

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“You have an invoice of R1.2 million or a red carpet, 2.5 million for a draping… We as the industry are unhappy that our industry is being used as a vehicle to conduct corrupt activities.”

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