Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
FUNERAL parlours in South Africa are engaging authorities to facilitate the repatriation of deceased Zimbabweans through Beitbridge Border Post for burial home.
The parlours are concerned with the manner in which the process is being handled with rules and regulations changing frequently on either sides of the border.
Under normal circumstances, at least 60 bodies are brought into the country through Beitbridge Border Post weekly.
As a result of the state of affairs, six bodies were returned to Johannesburg last Wednesday after the parlours reportedly failed to meet some of the regulations being rolled out under lockdown guidelines in both Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The Herald understands that initially one relative and the hearse drivers were allowed passage into the country, but now that has changed.
Under new changes, only the South Africa parlours’ driver is expected to leave the bodies with Zimbabwean parlours at Beitbridge Border Post for onward transportation.
However, this has been met with logistical challenges with parlours from the two countries yet to agree on sharing transportation fees.
On average it costs R15 000 to repatriate the remains of a Zimbabwean from South Africa.
Chairman of the Inner-City Funeral Directors Association-South Africa (IFDA-SA), Mr Nkosi Kwanike Nare yesterday said the state of affairs has resulted in bodies piling up in Johannesburg mortuaries.
He said one of their members was recently fined R18 000 for overloading their morgue with three bodies.
“As an association, we support all attempts by Sadc governments to curb the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa, Zimbabwe and in the region,” he said.
“As dedicated stakeholders, we have adopted the worse scenario stance, whereby all natural deaths cases are treated as Covid-19 cases. This is done to enhance precautionary measures to ensure that our staff and clients are all safe”.
Mr Nare said they had since tabled a number of proposed safe repatriation measures to Zimbabwean and South African authorities for consideration.
These, he said included the sharing of drivers by its members, especially those who have a sound geographic knowledge of Zimbabwe and were also prepared to repatriate human remains without any family member on board.
The official said they were also proposing that their funeral assistants/drivers meet at the nearest agreed point with the bereaved family in Zimbabwe.
“As a safety precautionary measure, our drivers will be accompanied by a fully completed RG1 Form for port health human remains declaration to facilitate information accuracy,” said Mr Nare.