Frustration As Dead Bodies Pile Up

AVBOB Funeral Services yesterday said it is sitting with more than 20 dead bodies that cannot be cremated following the breakdown of the only crematorium in the country.

The crematorium at the Pionierspark cemetery in Windhoek broke down on 14 December last year and has not been repaired yet.

Although Avbob manager Leon de Villiers could not give much detail, a source at the company said bodies were piling up daily.

“It has almost been three weeks now that the crematorium has been out of order. In the meantime, we are keeping the bodies at our mortuaries,” De Villiers said, adding that the Windhoek municipality has promised to have an answer for them by today.

De Villiers also said Avbob has sent a communication to its national branches to keep the bodies frozen while awaiting news from the municipality.

The source said the bodies have accumulated to more than 20 in the past three weeks, with grieving families refusing to use other methods than cremation.

“We are not talking about animals here. We are talking about the bodies of human beings whose wishes should be respected,” said the source.

According to the source, the situation is ‘frustrating’ because of some remains that have to be transported to South Africa after cremation but the process was being delayed.

Windhoek municipality spokesperson Lydia Amutenya told The Namibian on Sunday that families “will have to bury their dead” while the crematorium was being repaired.

In response to Amutenya’s suggestion, the source said some of the arrangements for cremations are based on the last wishes of the deceased whose families are determined to follow through with their requests.

Financial manager at Accacia Funeral Services Zeino Theron said his company had to repeatedly explain to their clients that they could not take bodies for cremation due to the breakdown.

“We have informed them and so far they have been very understanding,” said Theron, adding that those most affected would be the white community since they often opt for cremations. Theron also said the constant breakdown of the cremation machine was a cause for concern.

“The fact that we only have one cremation facility in the country is a major problem,” he said. Other undertakers, such as Palmyra Funerals, declined to comment, saying the matter was confidential.

When The Namibian visited the crematorium yesterday, there was no repair work going on, despite Amutenya claiming the plant was in the process of being fixed.

Cremation officer Obed Haraseb, who was instructed not to allow the media inside the facility, admitted that there was no one sent to do any repair work since 14 December last year. Haraseb also said he had no clue as to when repairing the facility would start, but Amutenya explained the municipality was busy constructing the new crematorium.

A source at the crematorium said he doubted that work on the new crematorium will start in the first quarter of this year.

“No groundwork has begun, nor is there any sign that we will be receiving the new facility any time soon. I doubt that we will have it here by the first quarter of 2015 as promised by the municipality,” said the source, adding that the machine breaks down at least four times every year.

“It is a recurring situation,” revealed the source.

Amutenya could not be reached for comment yesterday while the head of burials and cremations at the municipality, Mathilda Moncho, referred The Namibian to parks division manager Nancy Brand, who denied that there were bodies piling up due to the breakdown.

Source : The Namibian