Thursday, 15 August 2019

BYO $100 000 CREMATOR IMPOUNDED IN SA


THE Bulawayo City Council risks losing US$100 000 after a cremator it bought in South Africa was impounded by that country’s tax authority in February.

The cremator was supposed to be installed at Luveve Cemetery which would have been the city’s first crematorium in the western areas. The city is making moves to promote cremation, with burial space fast running out.

A resident had applied to set up a crematorium at Luveve Cemetery, which had been approved by council.

According to the latest council report, the company that had won the tender to procure the machine has since folded, further leaving council into murky waters.

The city legal officer explained that the cremator was still in Durban, South Africa and that a lawyer had met council management regarding the cremator.

He had written a letter to Durban and was still awaiting a response. 

“The lawyer advised management that withdrawing would be a loss to council and bringing the cremator would be at council’s expense. The Company that had won the tender to supply the Cremator had since folded up. Once there was a response, the lawyer would then travel to Durban, South Africa. The machine is used in the disposal of a dead person’s body by burning it to ashes, typically after a funeral ceremony,” read the council report.

Cremation subjects a human body to intense heat ranging between 500 Degrees Celsius (930F) and 800 Degrees Celsius either through mechanical means using diesel fuel or a manual cremator – that is using firewood. The process has not been popular in the city with an average of 12 cremations per month compared to about 300 burials being conducted.

In an April council report, the Bulawayo City Council revealed that it approved an application from a resident to set up a crematorium at Luveve Cemetery.

The Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube, said they had received an application from Myriam Honiball seeking land to establish a crematorium at Luveve Cemetery that would provide the service to the city as well as reduce the demand for burial ground.

“There were no town planning objections to the proposal as the land applied for was within an existing cemetery and the use was ancillary to the initial use,” said Eng Dube.

The local authority approved that Stand 10335 Luveve measuring 818.17m2 in extent be leased to Myriam Honiball for the purposes of establishing a crematorium at the City Valuer’s recommended monthly rental of RTGS$100. 

“That the lease to be for an initial period of 3 years,” read the report. In February, tax authorities in South Africa seized a crematorium machine from Japan headed for Bulawayo in a payment dispute.

The imported cremator was supposed to complement the only one in the city situated at West Park Cemetery, used mainly by the Hindu community.

The cremator was impounded while on transit to Zimbabwe by South Africa’s Revenue Services (Sars) supposedly over “inadequate import documentation”.

Council, then, said it had paid an initial deposit of $97 120 some two years ago for the crematorium machine and at some point resolved to raise about R120 000 to pay Sars in storage fees and secure the release of the machine which was still holed up in Durban. Chronicle

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