SACC Calls for Covid-19 Funeral Compliance
According to a statement released by the South African Council of Churches (SACC), funerals continue to be a major source of Covid-19, accelerating the numbers infected and leading to deaths and more infectious funerals.
This was based on feedback received from across the country. The SACC therefore appeals to Churches to exercise responsibility.
“We consider it a part of our commitment to ‘Drive Down the Rate’ of Covid-19 infections, to draw the attention of Church leaders to the obligations of the local minister in regard to Covid-compliant funerals,” the SACC said.
The council referred to two publications of regulations.
Firstly, Church ministers must inform families on the regulation requirements.
“In the regulations, there is a form to be attested under oath by the family organiser of the funeral to say that the minister did inform the family appropriately on the regulations,” the statement said.
This is in the Government Gazette No 43148 dated March 25, 2020, titled “Undertaking by Organisers of the Funeral”.
“This means that if anyone should be charged for a non-compliant funeral, it should be the minister in charge of the funeral,” the council said. They believe this will be more directly enforced going forward.
The statement also noted that in many cases, Church ministers do not exercise their responsibility to ensure coronavirus-compliant funerals.
Those who fail in their responsibility are therefore responsible for the deaths of people who die after an infection from a funeral they were conducting, the SACC warned.
It is the responsibility of Church leadership to ensure that this understanding is clear to their ministers.
The SACC is providing pastoral information on funerals through the website churchinaction.org.za, and urges Churches to visit the website for information.
The council is also considering offering Covid-19 funeral-management training sessions for ministers, in batches of provinces and districts, to ensure that no local minister has to face the prospect of a Covid funeral without knowledge and preparation.
Secondly, according to Level 3 provisions, there is to be no communal singing at all at worship services, including funerals.
Every religious leader in charge of a place of worship must ensure:
- There is no physical contact between persons at the place of worship;
- There is a minimum of 1,5m between persons:
- All social distancing measures and health protocols are adhered to at all times; and
- Singing of hymns is limited to solo performances, or prerecorded performances during the religious service or activity,
- The distance between persons must be increased to 2,5m where the religious activity, such as preaching or leading worship, cannot be performed with facemasks.
To this end, the SACC stated that Church leaders are advised that funerals are considered one of the foremost mass-infection vehicles for the coronavirus.
“Our concern is that the finger is pointing to the inability or unwillingness of church pastors to manage funerals in accordance with the regulations, opening them to prosecution,” the council said.