Mortuaries in South Africa run out of space as COVID-19 bodies pile up

Funeral parlour owners in South Africa on Monday said they are running out of space in mortuaries due to deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic as bodies continue to pile up.

According to a report by local publication SABC, they said they are under intense pressure and are battling to cope with the high number of burials they have to perform daily.

“We have run out of coffins, we have run out of space at the mortuary. We are even requesting that those who can afford or are able to must try and get extra mortuary facilities, even if it is containers, temporary containers so that we have additional space”

“We run out of space, some funerals have to be postponed because we don’t have space,”  National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA President Muzi Hlengwa said.

He added that employees in the industry have to work additional hours due to the added pressure.

“We normally have cremations during the day but now we have cremations even at night… We normally remove bodies from the hospital mortuary but now we are no longer doing that. We remove bodies from wards because there is no space.”

Hlengwa has pleaded with South Africans to take the necessary precautions in order to reduce the number of cases in the country.

“We appeal to people to take extra caution on this virus which is killing a number of our people. As I speak to you now, tomorrow we have a funeral of an undertaker who died of COVID-19. Two died yesterday, it is scenes we have never seen before. This morning we had the news that one of the employees of an undertaker well known in KZN has passed on.”


Story compiled with assistance from South Africa Broadcasting Corp