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It is common practice among South Africans of different beliefs to maintain connection with their late relatives. That connection is displayed more vividly at cemeteries, crematoriums or during burial.

Since the cemetery is a shared space for all communities, the City has a responsibility to ensure the community shares the space with due regard to fellow residents. To this end, the City’s cemetery and crematorium bylaws outline the limitations and parameters set to promote peaceful and communal use of these facilities.

In terms of the bylaws, gardening and care of graves are the responsibilities of the City. Therefore, any upkeep of a grave should not include gardening, placing or leaving on a grave any object or decoration. The exception is only within the first 30 days after interment when wreathes are traditionally laid as a symbol of remembrance. No person, other than the cemetery officer, is allowed to plant a tree or shrubs on graves, or any section of the cemetery.

These bylaws also regulate the depth, length and width of grave excavations. So is the material of a coffin which should be either natural wood or perishable material. Coffins for cremations must be constructed of mainly timber or wood derivatives.

Those that require to take an animal to the cemetery, as some do as part of their religious rituals, must get permission from the cemetery officer beforehand.

During a funeral, the cemetery officer also has the discretion to allow or prevent any type of music that, in his judgment, is unseemly or unsuitable for a funeral and in contravention of the bylaws. Guilty parties can be fined or even imprisoned.

Emmanuel Maphorogo, Head of Parks and Cemeteries in the City, called on all residents and entities to abide by the bylaws.

“The bylaws must not only be seen as a hindrance to practices that people have grown used to, but they also serve a societal role of promoting cohesion in communities and providing solutions to the challenges of a developing community, such as a decreasing burial space. The bylaws make provision for second and third interments for families that would want to bury their dead in one grave,” Maphorogo said.

Complaints regarding cemeteries or crematoriums must be in writing to the Head of Cemeteries of the applicable region in the City.

Tombstones and other forms of memorial work cannot be erected on Saturday, Sunday, public holiday or after hours (between 16h00 and 07h00).

The City is not liable for damage or theft of memorial work - this applies to tombstones.