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Monday Feb 10, 2014

Cape Town 'not running out of burial space'

Cape Town denies it is running out of burial space, and says its cemeteries will have capacity for the next 10 years.

'Over the coming years, however, residents may find that the burial capacity is not in their preferred cemetery, but they will be able to inter their loved ones in a cemetery within the city. The city is actively looking at various alternative interment options and will continue to look for appropriate land for new cemeteries,' said Belinda Walker, mayoral committee member for community services and special projects.

About 800 burials take place at city cemeteries each month and almost a quarter of these are second burials on top of another coffin.

But given the growing demand for burial space, the city will not be able to spend money on identifying the 'forgotten historic' cemeteries that were once used by communities to bury their dead, unless there is a demand to investigate.

Walker said initiatives to encourage families to bury on top of another family member to save space in the city's existing cemeteries had been well received. Berm graves, which take up less space as they include only a headstone and no flat memorial work, were also becoming more popular.

Walker said about 40 percent of families opted for cremation, although this was increasing steadily by about 1.5 percent each year.

The city opened two new cemeteries in Wallacedene and Welmoed a couple of years ago to provide more burial options. Wallacedene offers about 12 000 new graves while the Welmoed extension has added another 24 000 graves to the city's burial space.

Walker said these new cemeteries were designed to be more space-efficient. The berm graves were offered at a reduced cost if the family agreed to only erect a vertical tombstone. The surface was levelled and nothing else was allowed on the grave. Walker said this meant that there were no pathways taking up space and a larger number of graves could be accommodated.

The city introduced 144 crypts to the Maitland Mausoleum and while there had been some interest in reserving some of these, no interments had taken place as yet, said Walker.

Grave recycling, however, was not supported during the city's public participation process for the cemetery by-law of 2011.

However, family members are able to reduce the contents of their relative's grave to make space for future burials. This relocation of the remains to a smaller box to allow for another coffin to be added is called reduction burial.

According to the cemetery by-law, all graves must be at least 1.4 metres below the ground and there must also be at least 300mm of soil between coffins that are buried on top of each other.

Cape Argus

    
 

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