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Sihle Zikalala steps in as race row over township burials heats up

IOL / / 28 JANUARY 2018 - 11:00 / SIPHELELE BUTHELEZI & KARINDA JAGMOHAN

DURBAN - WITH threats and tempers flaring among local funeral operators, KZN MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs Sihle Zikalala called for calm but also acknowledged that the industry needed to be transformed.

Zikalala intervened after the National Funeral Practitioners’ Association of South Africa (Nafupa SA) caused panic when it warned on Wednesday that from February 1 no Indian- or white-owned companies would be permitted to conduct funerals in black African townships in the greater Durban area.

A message warning white and Indian funereal businesses not to operate in black

townships has sparked concern in the industry

But Zikalala tried to quell tensions when he met with the funeral associations on Friday.

He said that while the constitution guaranteed everyone had the right to trade and do business anywhere, there had to be a fair distribution of the economy and opportunities.

Zikalala scheduled another meeting to discuss the way forward with funeral bosses on Wednesday.

Nafupa SA previously accused the government of colluding with non-black African funeral service providers by using the tender system.

Nkosentsha Shezi, Nafupa SA secretary-general, claimed that the SAPS and the Road Accident Fund had a database which excluded emerging and black-owned funeral service providers.

“We are sick and tired of whites, Indians and a few black people colluding with government using a tender system in the funeral industry. The family’s choice is restricted to the list of a few companies provided by the Road Accident Fund and the SAPS, which is a violation of a consumer’s choice,” said Shezi.

The president of the South African Funeral Practitioners’ Association, Yongama Quma, said Nafupa’s sentiments promoted racism and would not be tolerated.

Road Accident Fund chief marketing officer Phumelela Dhlomo said accusations against the fund were untrue.

“At any time families have the option to use a funeral parlour of their choice, including ones not on the panel.”

KwaZulu-Natal Funeral Association chairperson Logan Chetty said Nafupa had mishandled the issue.

“Banning businesses based on the race of their ownership is a throwback to the old apartheid system,” he said.

He called for the playing fields to be levelled.

“The Road Accident Fund paid out R140 million over the last 12 months but they have few funeral parlours on their panel, mostly the big names. Economic transformation is urgent,” Chetty said.

National funeral operators, including Avbob and Doves, said they had been a part of the ongoing transformation in the industry.

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LINK : https://www.iol.co.za/sunday-tribune/news/sihle-zikalala-steps-in-as-race-row-over-township-burials-heats-up-12973267

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