THE CITY of Windhoek is left with an estimated 9 000 grave spaces as three of its cemeteries have been filled to capacity.
This came after the Khomas region reported 827 deaths due to Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, making it the region with the highest Covid-19 deaths in the country.
City of Windhoek spokesperson Harold Akwenye told The Namibian that the three cemeteries in the city – the Old Location, Katutura and Khomasdal – have reached capacity while the Oponganda extension A is closed.
The cemeteries still open are the Oponganda Extension B with space for an estimated 4 000 graves and Gammams with space for an estimated 5 000 graves.
He said the city has procured 21 hectares next to Rocky Crest for the development of a cemetery and if finances allow, the land will become the city’s next cemetery as the council has already approved the use of the land as a cemetery.
Akwenye said cremation, however ,remains the most suitable method of disposing of human remains because burial space in the city is limited.
He said the crematorium has, however, been overused due to the high number of bodies cremated monthly.
“Cremation has increased drastically from 30 to 200 cremations per month. Due to high demand, the crematorium equipment breaks down regularly,” Akwenye said.
He said the rise in cremation and subsequent equipment breakdowns can be attributed to the high number of Covid-19 deaths and the requirement that such bodies are cremated if they are to be transported out of Windhoek for burial.
The founder of MK Kharuxab Funerals, Myles Kharuxab told The Namibian that his funeral home has been busy of late because of the high number of Covid-19 deaths.
Kharuxab said they perform a lot of burials every day.
“The number of deaths we had was beyond our expectations. We conduct burials from Monday to Sunday every week,” Kharuxab said.
He added that most burials are done in Windhoek with only a few performed out of the city due Covid regulations.
“Back then we used to have about eight funerals a week, but now it has gone up to 20 funerals. This has caused a lot of exhaustion to the undertakers,” Kharuxab said.
“We have come to a stage where cemeteries are full and we have to conduct burials at another cemetery and this breaks the families’ hearts, especially if they wanted their loved ones to be buried in the same cemetery as their other relatives,” Kharuxab said.
The Old Location cemetery was established in the late 1920s to cater for the community until they were forced to relocate to Katutura.
The city in 1995 applied for the reopening of the cemetery because of the high demand for burials there by the members of the community who resided in that area and had relatives buried there.
The application was approved and since it is a historic site, the cemetery was expanded to accommodate more burials.
Established in 1965, the Khomasdal Cemetery reached full capacity in 2014 with 10 250 graves – 6 750 for adults and 3 500 for children.
The largest cemetery in Katutura, The Oponganda Cemetery Extension A, reached full capacity in 2017.