Funeral parlours warn of consequences of continued load-shedding
Smaller operators say they are struggling to keep their mortuary fridges running during blackouts, increasing the risk of bodies decomposing
Funeral parlours are battling to keep their mortuary fridges running amid continuous load-shedding and those that have backup power say the costs are placing their business at risk.
Daphney Mavayela, a manager for Mabona Funerals in Soweto, the company spent R1,000 a night on diesel for generators to keep bodies from decomposing.
Many businesses were overwhelmed by the additional expenses as a result of the daily power cuts, Mavayela said, adding that the government should consider storing bodies in state morgues exempted from load-shedding.
“During intense load-shedding, government can keep bodies at state hospital mortuaries because they are not affected by load-shedding and some have generators ... This would assist many struggling businesses,” she added.
Mabona Funerals has been in business for more than 15 years and has solar panels for office administration, but those were insufficient to power to their morgue and they had to rely on generators during load-shedding.
“It is not easy for parlours to increase prices because there is a lot of competition and businesses are not doing that well,” Mavayela said.
“I would like to see fuel prices going down because aside from buying diesel for the morgue, there are cars we use for operations. The costs are just too much.”
Royal Empire Funerals owner Teboho Ditabe said he spent just under R30,000 a week to keep the lights on at three parlours.
“The bodies are facing a much greater risk of decomposition because of the power situation,” said Ditabe, from Naledi in Soweto.
“It is a terrible expense for us. It kills us as a business but we have a responsibility to ensure the bodies do not decompose.
“Smaller parlours that do not have morgues are in trouble when they want to outsource a mortuary. They are charged double the usual price because mortuary owners are trying to cover costs.”
The DA and EFF have urged government to review the model used to calculate fuel prices.
DA MP Jan de Villiers said the fuel levy should be scrapped to alleviate the burden on small and medium businesses.
“SA has one of the most oppressive fuel tax regimes in the world, with a 56% year-on-year increase in prices. Even large corporations are struggling to bear the additional costs of running their generators.
“One of these is Shoprite, which recently spent an additional R560m on diesel during stage 5 and 6 load-shedding over the past few months,” De Villiers said.
“If large corporations are struggling, how are small businesses expected to survive this crisis, since fuel has become an unaffordable luxury?”
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