Bulawayo City Council is pushing for all children who die aged 10-years and below to be cremated, as the city faces a burial space crisis.
This comes amid revelations that the Pumula South burial site, which was recently gazetted by Government, is unsuitable for adult burials as the underground soil was largely rocky, raising speculation that the local authority did not conduct any feasibility study at the site.
According to the latest council minutes, the local authority has since decided that starting from this year, all children aged 10 years and below as well as paupers, would be cremated to free up the burial space.
Council said consent would be sought from parents to conduct cremations, noting that it will be cheaper to cremate children than bury them.
“Due to pressure for burial space at cemeteries and the amount of space taken up by infants, it had 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,” reads the report.
“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 moment where all burials were done at Luveve Extension Cemetery.
“The cremations would be done at our crematorium in West Park.” Of late, council has been encouraging people to cremate their beloved ones, saying burial space at cemeteries was fast running out.
From a traditional perspective, locals are generally reluctant to cremate their relatives, opting for burials. Only 13 cremations were recorded in December last year in Bulawayo, with the city recording 533 burials in the month.
Meanwhile, the local authority could have blundered as it has emerged that its only alternative to ease the burial space headache — Pumula South Cemetery — is unfit to bury adults as the underground soil was largely rocky and difficult to come up with standard adult graves.
“For this reason, it was now being proposed that all children (0-12 years) should, starting from early next year be buried at this cemetery. This was because the graves for children were smaller (shallower and shorter, 1,53 metres long, 0,6 metres wide and 1,53 metres deep). It was felt that the terrain in Pumula South was suitable for the production of such graves,” reads the report.
The pieces of land where the new cemetery was meant to be measures 52 754 hectares, with the local authority initially projecting that it would accommodate between 107 350 and 114 270 graves after allowing for foot paths and driveways.
The land used to belong to Hawkflight Construction.
Bulawayo currently has eight cemetery sites, with a death rate of about 400 people per month.
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