South Africa’s Power Cuts Not Sparing The Dead

Power cuts in South Africa do not spare the dead

Scheduled power outages, known as load shedding, have burdened South Africa. (Represent)

Johannesburg, South Africa:

The power crisis in South Africa could leave people and businesses without power for hours — but fewer victims are vulnerable than funeral workers.

The mortuary director is urging the bereaved to conduct the funeral quickly to avoid decomposition and relieve pressure on the mortuary refrigerator.

The South African Funeral Practitioners Association (SAFPA) bluntly stated: “The industry is seeing a large number of bodies rotting.”

The four-day burial “saves costs and prevents families from seeing their deceased in a poor state of decomposition,” the agency said.

That can require an uncomfortable change in a country where most funerals take place a week or two after a person dies — and mourners line up past open coffins, with dead bodies. dead on display, on the day of the funeral.

Practitioners reduce their dependence on state electricity monopoly Eskom by using diesel generators to keep their morgues cold. But they are being hit by skyrocketing energy bills.

“Smaller salons are struggling to make ends meet because now most of their money is being spent dealing with” loss, said Dududu Magano, a spokesman for the National Association of Funeral Directors. electricity.

Scheduled power outages, known as load shedding, have burdened Africa’s most industrialized economy for more than a decade, as Eskom’s rickety coal-fired plants struggle to keep up. meet needs.

But power outages have reached new extremes over the past year, sometimes cutting power up to four times a day, for periods of up to four and a half hours.

Grace Matila, a funeral director in Johannesburg for 10 years, blamed a recent power failure for her refrigerator compressor to fail.

“The constant on and off caused it to stop working, but luckily I have a backup compressor. Can you imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t?” she told AFP, saying she would have to pass on higher electricity costs to customers.

‘Ripple effect’

Industry regulations require funeral homes and morgues to have backup generators, but not all comply.

“Generators don’t come cheap,” said Mike Nqakula, who owns a funeral home in the small town of Uitenhage, about 1,000 kilometers south of Johannesburg.

“I know a man whose shop had to close because the city government discovered a decomposing body,” the 61-year-old told AFP.

And funeral workers’ worries don’t stop at trying to preserve the bodies.

Magano said the power outage also hampered efforts to get the administrative paperwork needed to conduct a burial or cremation, as Interior Ministry offices would go offline during a power outage.

The outage has caused a “ripple effect” across the industry, he added.

Phone calls are easy to happen when the phone battery is dead and cannot be charged, or the network signal is weak due to a damaged cell phone pole.

As a result, it is sometimes difficult for people to contact medical personnel so they can confirm a deceased person or request a body transfer when a death occurs at home.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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