Funeral assistance for marginalised communities

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Windhoek

Many people from impoverished communities continue to bury their loved ones and relatives in blankets due to poverty as they cannot afford coffins.

The government has lately introduced funeral assistance for the marginalised communities of San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba, with the aim of assisting family members from these communities to give their deceased loved ones a dignified burial.

The current situation has resulted in many deaths not being registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, as the deceased are buried on the same day they died, due to the lack of resources needed to access transport and mortuaries, as well as to access services offered by that ministry.

As a result, many children who qualify for social grants have been left out, as they have no official means to prove that their parents have died.

In June the Office of the President introduced operational guidelines to be used by the regional councils in providing assistance in the form of free coffins, to ensure that the deceased from these communities will no longer be buried in blankets, as most people in these communities are extremely poor.

Government spends between N$300 and N$600 on a coffin for deceased children from these marginalised communities and between N$1500 to N$2500 for the coffins of adults.

The beneficiaries are those who do not receive any form of social protection, such as old age pension, disability grant, those employed, and those who passed away in car accidents, as people in these categories are – or should have been – covered.

There are also many children, especially in the Omusati and Kunene regions, without birth certificates as their parents died without official documents.

The Office of the Prime Minister has now directed regional Councils to appoint funeral service providers in their respective regions to provide free funeral services to the needy.

Funeral support can be granted if the deceased person is a member of a marginalised community. This needs be proven with documents, such as a copy of the death certificate and removal order, a sworn police declaration under oath that the deceased person was a member of a marginalised community, original invoices from the service provider, and a supporting letter from the regional council, traditional council or chief.

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