An exploration of alternative burial methods and options : the challenges of identifying new cemetery land in Richards Bay.
Mhlongo, Mthokozisi Siboniso.
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The main objective of this study was to explore alternative burial methods and options as a consequence of shortage of land for new cemetery development. The researcher is motivated by the challenges facing the UMhlathuze Municipality in identifying land for new cemetery development in Richards Bay. The research intends to investigate alternative burial options and methods such as grave recycle/re-use; cremation; natural burial; sea burial; resomation (bio-cremation); and second internment that can be considered in order to mitigate challenges of allocating more land for new cemeteries. The researcher felt it is important to conduct this research since there have been so many debates in the media, television series (such as Ashes to Ashes and Uzalo), conferences and international as well as national literature about alternative burial methods and options. The research sample comprises of different religions, cultures and beliefs. It also encompasses males and females from different suburbs, and agri-villages within the Study Area (Richards Bay) in the uMhlathuze Municipality. Mzingazi and Mandlazini Agri-villages are very important in the research since residents from these villages have a strong traditional and cultural background. Many of them keep their livestock in their households, and they also perform small scale agricultural activities. The majority of the residents from the agri-villages are beneficiaries of land reform initiatives and some of them have performed home burials. This has caused confusion among community members since these villages are within the urban edge where home burial is not permitted. The researcher used qualitative study methods (Interviews and surveys with participants) with an intention of gaining an understanding of the land scarcity challenge facing the municipality in relation to cemetery development and to provide an insight into a problem and recommend ideas for possible solutions. The researcher manually analysed the data (by including (?) questionnaires with the same responses) in order to get the overall idea of participants’ ideas prior to technical analysis obtained during the study. The results of the study are presented in the form of quotes together with the discussion of the result by the researcher. The findings show that culture and religion play a very important in the study as they relate to burial practice and people’s norms. Although there are other burial alternatives mainly practiced in Europe and Asia, many African people still regard the conventional burial as the preferred method. The findings and recommendations made in the study may be of great assistance not only to the uMhlathuze Municipality but also to other municipalities as well as interested institutions in South Africa, as it will provide a picture of how people perceive available alternative burial methods.