published June 3, 2021, 12:16 p.m. by mariamagboola
When Women bury the dead
At times culture has to be put aside for women to do what needed to be done; this was what these women did instead of waiting helplessly for men to do the work.
Faced with two coffins and not enough men to close the graves, the ladies did not hesitate. They ditched their high heels, handbags, picked up the shovels and did the job themselves. And in no time the two graves were covered.
“Culturally, it is known that men are the ones who cover the coffins with sand and fill the graves,” said a woman who attended the funeral at Waterworks squatter camp, west of Joburg, on Friday.
“What must we do if men are not here? We have to step in and take over the role.”
She said women cannot wait for men.
Another woman, a shovel in her hand, said: “We also have hands and when there is a need, culture must be cast aside.”
The residents were burying madala Mafika Ncala (73) who died two weeks ago, and two-year-old Lalitha Mtintsala who died last week. The madala and the baby were buried at the same time at the Zenzele Cemetery near Randfontein.
A local journalist was present when they closed the graves. Community leader Dina Mkhari said they respect culture but found themselves outnumbering the men.
Faced with two coffins and not enough men to close the graves, the ladies didn’t hesitate.
“We had to do something because we were not going to leave the coffins uncovered because there were no men to help,” she said.
She said the women collected money door to door to bury the toddler and the mkhulu.
“Mkhulu died without family and the mother of the toddler was unemployed and had no means to bury the child,” she said.
They asked Catherine’s Funeral Directors,; an undertaking firm in Toekomrus to help them. They didn’t have enough cash. The mother of the toddler, Babalwa Mtintsilala said she had no money and was grateful the community for helping her bury her daughter.
“I survive on recycling and I don’t have money,” said Babalwa.
Community leader Phakamile Mlambo said the women offered to help.
“We’re also happy that the undertaker opened his heart and wallet.”
The undertakers told journalist they were happy to help and had helped others in the community. Cultural expert Mtimande Ngwenya said the women need to be appreciated.
“They did something which is unusual. Culture sometimes oppresses women but it turns out they can do it better than men,” he said.