Health Department open to talks with protesting undertakers


The Health Department says while it will not allow non-compliance to legislation in the funeral services sector, it is open to continue talks with undertakers who to down tools.

A group of undertakes around the country have shut down the collection of human remains from private and public health facilities, posing a risk to public health.

The protests began on Monday, September 14.

“We will not allow non-compliance to legislation in this sensitive area.

The Department of Health is willing to continue with talks with the funeral parlour sector to come to an amicable solution,” said the Health Department in a statement on Sunday.

The shutdown relates to issues of regulation such as the correct licensing and certification in the sector.

According to the department, two virtual meetings were arranged in August and one physical meeting at the beginning of September.

These meetings were as a result of an open letter by the National Funeral Practitioners of Association of South Africa.

This is the only association that wrote to the department.

Following the meetings, the department emphasised that all funeral undertakers and mortuary premises used in connection with the preparation, storage and preservation of human remains must be in possession of a valid certificate of competence issued by the relevant local authority.

“Environmental health practitioners are and will continue to conduct inspections at all funeral undertakers’ premises in the country to check compliance with the regulations.

Legal action will be taken against owners of premises found to be in contravention.

“Family members are urged to check the legitimacy of the undertakers and agents being utilised for overall management of the burial of their loved ones to ensure proper tracking and tracing, and that the handling of the remains is done with dignity and within the law,” said the department.

On any issues relating to the management of human remains and for advice to ensure compliance with the regulations, the department urged the public to contact their local municipalities for assistance.

The environmental health practitioners can be of assistance.

Offices of local funeral undertakers are all closed due to the national protest. Picture taken in Heidelberg, Gauteng.

“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,” said the department.

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