The city of Johannesburg on Thursday told residents to consider burial alternatives for their loved ones as the city is running out of space.
The city said only four of the 38 cemeteries managed by the Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo were available for new burials with burial space for the next 50 to 60 years.
Opting for private graves for burial was unsustainable for Johannesburg, which has the highest amount of burials in Gauteng because of migration patterns.
Member of the mayoral committee for community development in Johannesburg councillor Nonhlanhla Sifumba said: “There is currently adequate burial space in the city of Joburg, however, we need to start considering alternatives now to cater for a future where there will not be cemeteries for the anticipated growth in urban centres around the world.”
The city has encouraged residents who have existing burial locations to consider other options, such as reduction burials, which involve using smaller coffins for remains in order to make room for others.
Another option that has been suggested by the city is for second burials in the same grave. According to city bylaws, people may opt to bury additional family members in the same grave.
In fact, up to three family members may use the same grave, allowing family members to be laid to rest in one burial location.
The city said: “This option is much more affordable, is environmentally friendly, and affords the family the opportunity to pay their respects to loved ones at the same gravesite. This ensures that they are together, even in death, making it easier for those left behind to visit them all at the same time.”.
Residents may also opt for mausoleum burials, which are above-ground burials in a tomb or chamber that allows for families to be buried together within the structure.
There is, of course, the option of cremation, which other cultures have adopted as their preferred option, which would also help in saving burial space.