Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The Ministry of Health and Child Care has come up with stringent measures to regulate the repatriation of bodies from South Africa into Zimbabwe through Beitbridge Border Post.
The move which follows consultations between South African based funeral parlours and authorities from the two neighbouring countries is part of the national responsive measures the Government is implementing to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa, Mr Melody Chaurura said they had since communicated the new set of regulations to the funeral parlours.
“We have advised the funeral parlours on the new order after getting correspondence from the Ministry of Health and Child Care at home,” she said.
“Under the new order, all bodies being brought repatriated o Zimbabwe for burial will be treated as contagious except in cases where the cause of death is a road accident, murder or other body injuries.
“In addition, all remains now require the clearance of the Ministry of Health and Child Care prior to their transportation to Zimbabwe under the usual procedures.
“Relatives accompanying the remains are now being subjected to under mandatory quarantine at any port of entry upon arrival in the country before proceeding to the various destinations”.
Mrs Chaurura said they were still consulting with the Ministry of Health and Child Care on the proposal by the parlours that only drivers (funeral assistants) who will be in full gear of Personal Protection Equipment are expected to proceed to the place of burial in the country and return to South Africa soon after the burial.
She said though they had got a confirmation in principle was waiting for a written document to minimise the hustle that the parlours are encountering at Beitbridge.
“We consulted the Health Authorities at home over the fate of drivers and they agreed to allow them to proceed to the burial points, but it appears that instruction is yet to be communicated to border authorities,” said Mrs Chaurura.
The chairman of the Inner-City Funeral Directors Association- South Africa (IFDA-SA), Mr Nkosi Kwanike Nare said on Wednesday that they have since received communication from the consulate.
“This is a relief to the death Care Industry and we are thankful to the authorities for considering our proposal.
“We understand that there have been some information dissemination challenges with the Port of Entry Staff and we have been assured that it’s being taken care of,” said Mr Nare.
He said they had to approach authorities after encountering a number of challenges with border authorities over the ever-changing repatriation regulations.
In some cases, he said the parlours had to return with bodies to South Africa after failing to meet some of the requirements.
Mr Nare said they had been told to leave the bodies with Zimbabwean, parlours for onward transportation but that failed after they failed to agree on sharing costs.
“It costs an average of R15000 to transport a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe and our counterparts were now charging R12 000 from Beitbridge to inland Zimbabwe. This model proved to be difficult for our members’ ad most bereaving families,” he said.
Under normal circumstances at least 60 bodies are brought into the country through Beitbridge Border Post weekly for burial.