Humairaa Mayet | 27 November 2018 | Image: TimesLIVE
Burial space available in the city should last approximately 50-70 years, predicts Jenny Moodley; spokesperson for Johannesburg City Parks. 34 of the 38 cemeteries in Johannesburg have been declared dormant upon reaching full capacity, and Moodley encourages individuals to consider alternative measures to ensure that burial space in the four remaining cemeteries lasts for as long as possible.
Speaking to Ebrahim Gangat on Salaamedia, Moodley urged the people of Johannesburg to think ahead as the last four active cemeteries- West Park, Olifantsvlei, Deipsloot, and Waterval, while adequate for the time being- have limited usage spans. The city has prioritised the need for housing over the need for burial grounds, but will continue searching for new land which can be used as cemeteries, stated Moodley.
Moodley claimed that the younger generation is far more receptive to alternatives than their older counterparts; the youth are likely to utilise alternatives such as secondary and tertiary burials, cremation, and mausoleums, provided that the alternatives lie within the confines of their cultures and religions.
The process of cremation is forbidden in Islam, as is burial in a mausoleum, therefore Moodley advised the Muslim community to consider the option of using graves for a second or third time. In order to allow for the burial of two or three people in one grave, explained Moodley, the depths of the graves will be expanded.
Johannesburg City Parks has been working closely with various religious associations in an attempt to find solutions which could apply to most, if not all, religious groups. Moodley stated that in recent years there has been an increase in both the number of cremations and the number of grave re-openings, illustrating a positive trend that will result in large amounts of space being saved if continued.
Individuals should consider at least one of the many innovative solutions proposed with environmental and economic concerns in mind, recommended Moodley.
Finally, Moodley urged individuals who have loved ones buried in Johannesburg’s cemeteries to look after them, ensuring that they are always well-kept and aesthetically pleasing and making sure that the sanctity and integrity of the burial grounds are respected.
Moodley emphasised that this claim of limited space should not arouse panic in any form, because if planned effectively, land will be conserved, allowing available space to last for decades.