Walvis Bay mayor questions Covid-19 exhumation

Burial site posed a health risk, said residents

23 July 2020 | Local News



Walvis Bay mayor Immanuel Wilfred has questioned the attitude of Narraville residents who demanded the exhumation of the country's first Covid-19 victim. Narraville residents last week stopped the funeral of the second Covid-19 victim in the harbour town's new cemetery, while demanding that the body of the first victim be exhumed. They claimed that the burial site posed a health risk because it was too close to houses in the suburb. The community members also claimed that children played in the area and that it was not properly fenced.

Wilfred took a different tone, saying that the deceased deserved respect. “There is an issue of dignity; he was the first Covid-19 death in Namibia. If I could take a decision, I would put up a monument,” Wilfred said.

Necessary permissions

Wilfred said even if the residents' concerns were genuine, there had to be a valid reason for the body to be exhumed.

He pointed out that a court order is required for exhumations. “Why should that body be exhumed? There must be a valid reason.

That body is decomposed, who is going to remove it?” Wilfred asked. He further questioned whether community members had approached the family of the deceased for permission. Nevertheless, Wilfred said the town council had now decided to use the town's existing three cemeteries for Covid-19 burials.

Planned Narraville cemetery

Wilfred maintained that the site where the first Covid-19 victim was buried had already been zoned as a cemetery.

“It is a cemetery; it is already approved. It is not to say it is not a cemetery. Maybe in a few months or years it will be the cemetery to go to,” he said. “People are dying; that is a planned cemetery approved with a certificate,” he added.

“ Namibia has reported seven Covid-19 deaths so far, all from Walvis Bay. Only one victim has been buried so far, although the World Health Organisation advises that such bodies should be buried within 48 hours.

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