BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/ LORRAINE MUROMO
THE recent ban on the transportation of dead bodies has sparked an outcry among the public who described the move as unAfrican.
Police on Sunday announced restrictions on the movement of dead bodies for burial which will see corpses being buried in localities where they would have died, to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Body-viewing was also banned and police said they would only clear bodies for burial from mortuaries or funeral parlours straight to the burial site.
In a survey conducted by NewsDay yesterday, citizens condemned authorities for restricting transportation of corpses, saying it undermined cultural values.
Others, however, said it was the best way to contain the virus.
“Government is wasting its effort on trivial matters while ignoring important issues on saving the lives of the people from the virus,” Harare resident Ishmael Maukazuva said.
“It should stop worrying over the dead, but rather, should put efforts on revamping public health institutions on availing the required equipment such as ventilators, more intensive care unit beds, and oxygen to save lives.
“The decision to ban movement of dead bodies is inhumane. People are already hurt by unnecessarily losing their beloved ones in ill-equipped health institutions, hence barring them from burying their relatives in their places of choice is inflicting further pain.”
Harare City Council acting spokesperson Innocent Ruwende said: “Council has enough land for graves, but the recent restrictions on movement of dead bodies would mean an overwhelming number of corpses which would strain council operations.
“Harare City Council has enough land to provide graveyards for up to six years at the Mbudzi and Warren Hills gravesites, but due to the ban, there is need for an adjustment.
“The council is cash-strapped following the recent garnish by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, hence, it can not efficiently provide services for the graveyards. We would have challenges in availing transport and fuel for the provision of the service.”
Chief Mutekedza from Chikomba district said: “It is understandable that the government is making efforts to contain the virus, but there is need to offer dignity to the dead in accordance with the Zimbabwean culture.”
“In my view, relatives of the dead should be allowed to bury their beloved ones at places of their choice, but under strict COVID-19 regulations. What if the relatives can’t afford the grave fees charged in towns? Yes, we are in the difficult times of the pandemic, but we cannot sacrifice our tradition and bury our beloved ones like dogs,” he added.
Dadisa Rafemoyo of Harare said: “Government should have respect for the dead and let the deceased be buried according to choices by the bereaved family members. We understand that the government is trying to curb the spread of the virus, but let us not forget humanity in the process. Rather, government should give the relatives a choice on where to bury their relatives. Unless they are saying they are going to have specific COVID-19 graves, but in my opinion it does not make sense to dictate where one should be buried.”
Simbarashe Zachariah Pumhai said: “The decision by government was one of the best in response to the ever-rising numbers of COVID-19 pandemic cases and deaths in the country.”
“The intensity of the second wave of the pandemic should not be underestimated. To allay fears of the international community and those parts of the Western world that have taken a political dimension of the scourge to Zimbabwe, it throws an egg on their faces.
“Besides, it doesn’t really matter where one is buried because it won’t change that person’s state of oblivion. What government should ensure is that local councils should not capitalise on this policy to reap off people in mourning. In fact, for victims of the pandemic, let burial ground be free and those inconvenienced by the policy may have charges reduced by half,” Pumhai said.