NEARLY 700 Zimbabweans have died in South Africa during the ongoing lockdown meant to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
Zimbabwe’s consul-general to Johannesburg, Mrs Melody Chaurura said yesterday that documents had been processed for the repatriation of the remains of 693 Zimbabweans from the neighbouring country between March 30 and May 22.
She said the bodies were repatriated by road via Beitbridge Border Post.
Mrs Chaurura said the destinations of the bodies were spread across the country and most of the people died due to natural causes. “During the period under review we processed documents to repatriate remains of 693 for burial in Zimbabwe,” she said.
Mrs Chaurura said the repatriation process had not changed and her office stands guided by recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“Under the system, all bodies being repatriated to Zimbabwe for burial will be treated as contagious except in cases where the cause of death is a road accident, murder or other body injuries. All the bodies now require the clearance of the Ministry of Health and Child Care prior to their transportation to Zimbabwe under the usual procedures,” she said.
Mrs Chaurura said relatives accompanying bodies are now being subjected to mandatory quarantine at any port of entry upon arrival in the country before proceeding to the various destinations.
Zimbabwean and South African health authorities came up with stringent measures recently to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
The move follows consultations among South African based funeral parlours and authorities from the two neighbouring countries.
Mrs Chaurura said it was important for Zimbabweans who seek to travel home to note that they will have to undergo 21 days of mandatory quarantining upon arrival.
“We are happy that our host Government has been granting permits to those who request to travel back to Zimbabwe on varying personal emergencies including bereavement,” said Mrs Chaurura.
Besides the Ministry of Health and Child Care clearance, a birth certificate or national identification documents of the deceased are needed at the Consulate for documentation for those travelling by road.
In the case of the remains being flown, a passport is mandatory as well as a copy of the informant’s particulars and a burial order.
On average it costs R15 000 to transport a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe by road.