The Bulawayo City Council has been approving requests for two bodies to be buried in one grave at a time the city is running out of burial space, raising speculation that city fathers may be considering double burials as the solution to the burial space constraints.
Council has, however, refuted claims that the policy to allow two bodies in one grave was being necessitated by shortage of burial space.
This comes amid revelations that the Pumula South burial site, which was gazetted last year, is not suitable for adult burials as the underground soil was largely rocky.
Allegations are that the local authority did not conduct feasibility studies of the grave site before requesting the Government to gazette the location.
Responding to written questions from Sunday News the local authority’s spokesperson, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said while they allow double burials this was done in special cases like for couples and other people who put in special requests to be buried in the same grave.
She said there were a number of scenarios where the local authority approves two bodies to be buried in one grave.
“The city allows for two bodies in one grave usually by request and this is common with couples, who indicate the same at the initial burial and the depth is adjusted accordingly. Allowing for second interment is not for purposes of space saving but accommodates families who want their parents to be close to each other at burial and would not have reserved a grave next to the first departed spouse at the time of burial. This is also only possible if the time lapse between the first burial and second burial is at least 10 years.
“However, if the family indicates through application to the director of health services that they would want a second interment at the death of the first spouse, the grave can be dug deeper than the standard depth to a depth of 2,2 metres. In such a case the 10-year waiting period falls off as second burial can be done even within two weeks. Grave fees are paid in both instances that are at first burial and second burial,” said Mrs Mpofu.
She said the local authority also considered double burials in cases of twin still births or when a woman dies during labour together with the baby.
Early this year the local authority passed a resolution to encourage cremation of children under the age of ten years as a measure to save the limited burial space available.
“Due to pressure for burial space at cemeteries and the amount of space taken up by infants it has now been decided, in conjunction with the central hospitals that an arrangement be made where all the infants (including paupers) should, starting from next (this) year be cremated so that we free up the burial space. This will be done with the consent of the bereaved parents, so that those who may not be comfortable with the cremation process may seek normal burial.
The idea was to free up burial space which was dwindling very fast, especially at the current moment where all burials were done at Luveve Extension cemetery. The cremations would be done at our crematorium in West Park,” reads the report.
Of late the council has also been encouraging people to cremate their departed beloved ones, saying burial space at the cemeteries was fast running out