The truck was stopped on the N2 near the Somerset Weigh bridge as part of routine control. It was learnt that the corpses were being transported for cremation.
“The officers stopped a truck at the Somerset weighbridge on the N2 in Somerset West on Saturday afternoon. When it was discovered that the truck was overloaded, the driver informed the officers he was transporting dead bodies to the Eastern Cape,” Mitchell said.
Traffic officials immediately closed the area temporarily and handed the site over to law enforcement as well as the local health department, to further look into the matter.
According to IOL, the company that planned the transportation of the bodies said after the inspections, another truck was organised, and both trucks were allowed to continue the journey as all the coffins had the necessary paperwork.
Cremations on the rise
The news outlet has cited the company’s spokesperson Fredelene Knowles as saying that funeral undertakers were forced to transport bodies to Gqeberha because some local crematoriums are closed while others cannot cope with the large volumes.
“Currently, both the Maitland and Durbanville crematoriums cannot take more bodies. Other crematoriums in the province cannot also take any bodies. We are also under pressure from families who want to get ashes at least within a week,” Knowles said.
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the funeral industry. In Gauteng alone, the third wave has been brutal, with burials and cremations having increased sharply.
“In May, we had 1 920 burials and cremations. This increased to 3 568 burials and cremations in June. July is not over yet and we are already sitting at 3 422. These numbers are staggering … We have already surpassed last year’s figures for July, which is alarming,” Johannesburg City Parks spokesperson Reggie Moloi told GroundUp.