SA has shortage of raw material needed to make coffins
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Johannesburg - South Africa’s coffin makers are working overtime to catch up on the shortage of coffins caused by the unrest the country experienced in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng recently.
The vice-president of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), Lawrence Konyana, said some of the factories and warehouses where coffins are made were disrupted by the unrest.
Some funeral parlours reported that coffins were stolen, while at the same time they were dealing with a shortage of board material used to make coffins and high-end caskets.
The shortages come as more than 300 people lost their lives in the unrest that gripped both Gauteng and KZN.
Meanwhile, the SA Funeral Practitioners Association (Safpa) said there was no need to panic over a possible shortage of caskets in KZN as there was sufficient stock to meet the demand.
While there had been challenges over level 4 lockdown and the looting of caskets, in some instances during the riots two weeks ago, this did not amount to a crisis.
Safpa deputy president Ndabezinhle Ngcobo admitted that there was a shortage, but stressed that this was limited to Gauteng which had been hit hard by the third wave of Covid-19.
According to the latest update from the Health Department, as of Thursday, around 520 more people have died after contracting the virus, with the death toll now at 70 908.
These deaths exclude the normal deaths that the country experiences on a day-to-day basis.
“Right now, the manufacturers are back to normal working hours.
“They had to close down because of the unrest. Most of them are trying to speed up production so that we send out as many units as possible,” Konyana said.
It was not clear if funeral parlours that were vandalised and looted had been targeted by their competitors or whether it was part of an unco-ordinated unrest.
The funeral industry was also experiencing a shortage of the raw material needed to make the coffins such as the wood board used to make the product.
Konyana said the industry had engaged government on the matter.
The shortage would see the price of coffins and caskets increasing.
“The industry had had three price increases in January, and even now in August, we are going to have another price increase, and unfortunately the industry cannot afford those costs any more, the costs will be passed to the funeral undertakers, and then down to the client,” he said.
Konyana said the price increases would affect bottom of the range coffins and top of the range caskets. He said more people bought coffins compared to expensive caskets.
“The price increase will be across all the products,” he said.
The coffin industry had to produce more coffins than normal because of the pandemic, while taking on additional costs such as personal protective equipment.
“We had to produce surplus stock because of the pandemic, and you can appreciate that when a family wants a certain type of coffin and they can’t get it, then they have to compromise,” he said.