Funerals spike as Covid-19 claims more lives

Ninety funerals have been conducted at St George’s Anglican Church in Silvertown since the start of lockdown.

The emotional trauma has become unbearable.

So said Gatesville mosque spokesman Sataar Parker, when asked how Covid-19 had affected the mosque.

Mr Parker said five of their mosque committee members had tested positive for Covid-19.

Sheikh Abduraghman Alexander was discharged from hospital last week, deputy imam, Sheikh Yaseen Latief, who is still in hospital, lost his wife, Rasheeda Latief to Covid-19. The mosque’s Bilal (the person who does the call to prayer), Faizel Salie, also tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr Parker also said the mosque conducted up to four funerals a day.

“The cemeteries are full. The irony is that when the Muslim Judicial Council asked all mosques to close because of the second wave, Gatesville mosque immediately complied. So one cannot say that the mosque contributed to the super spreaders,” Mr Parker.

Reverend Marcus Slingers from St George’s Anglican Church in Silvertown said since the start of lockdown at the end of March, the church had conducted about 90 funerals, six of them in the past week.

“Families struggle to say goodbye. They cannot console their relatives with hugs or a touch, and they cannot be there for their loved-ones. We have also lost two colleagues who succumbed to Covid-19. Our Bishop Joshua Louw is in hospital,” he said.

“At funerals, we can no longer sing, but we play the hymns and I ask the congregation to listen to the words and let it minister to them. All we can do now is draw on our faith.”

He added that one of the things the clergy struggled with was that there had been less pastoral care over the festive season, as many were on leave.

“The statistics are no longer just numbers, they are people who are close to us – they have names,” Mr Slingers said.

In the first week of January, the City reported that its cemeteries had recorded a 30% increase in burials, compared to the week before.

A City of Cape Town media release stated that among the 501 burials up to Tuesday January 5, 139 had taken place at Klip Road cemetery in Grassy Park, 121 at Maitland and 94 at Welmoed.

There had also been an increase in the number of cremations.

The City’s mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien, said not all of the burials were Covid-related though.

“The increase could in part be attributed to the recent long weekends, as some burials would have been postponed. However, it is a fact that there has been an increase in deaths attributed to the virus, and so the sad reality is that our cemeteries will be busier in the weeks ahead.

“Our staff have expressed concern about funerals and the lack of social distancing, in particular. While we understand that burying a loved one is a very emotional time for distraught families, we ask that funeral-goers please be mindful at all times of the need to adhere to safety protocols,” Dr Badroodien said.