Gauteng prepares mass graves as Covid-19 infections increase

A bulldozer can be seen digging graves at the Honingnestkrans graveyard in Pretoria, 8 July 2020. The site is being prepared for an influx of Covid-19 related deaths. Picture: Jacques Nelles

This as four cemeteries managed by the City of Johannesburg still has space for 1.4 million graves.

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku says the province has started digging graves in preparation for the peak of Covid-19.

As of 7 July, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Gauteng is 71, 488, with 21, 414 recoveries and 478 deaths.

Johannesburg remains the epicentre of the virus in Gauteng with 33,750 confirmed cases, followed by Ekurhuleni  with 15,807 cases and Tshwane with 11,481 confirmed cases.

Government official Mlimandlela Ndamase shocked South Africans on social media after revealing 39 burials were held at the Westpark Cemetery on Saturday.

He further said the four cemeteries managed by the City of Johannesburg still had space for 1.4 million graves.

Also read: Gauteng records highest Covid-19 death toll three days running

This as more are being prepared in different parts of Gauteng.

In an interview with Newzroom Afrika on Wednesday, Masuku revealed one cemetery in Pretoria was digging around 24,000 graves, with an extension expected to take around 36,000 graves.

“It’s one of the most uncomfortable things that we have to do as health because it brings a lot of uncomfortable emotions, but it’s something that we have to do. We are also looking around other sites in the province. Our municipalities throughout the province have been claiming and acquiring more land to ensure that we are able to fulfil this mandate,” he told the channel.

Also read: American journalist dragged for claiming ‘1 million body bags delivered to SA’

Masuku said the province was preparing and clearing some of the available burial sites due to time constraints.

“We also took liberty to get a better sense of what protocol we have to put up when conducting burials.”

Crematoriums around the province have also been prepared, with most indicating they were ready to perform 20 or more burials a day.

“It’s  just a matter of capacity and we are looking into other means on how we can increase that for other parts where they don’t have. All districts have crematoriums, it’s just a question of capacity.”

(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde)

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