Burial - Information & Answers

What does burial mean? Is burial expensive? Here are questions, answers, and information about burial in South Africa.

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Considering burial in your funeral plans?

At LegalWills.co.za, we provide all services related to Advance Directives, including writing your Will, your Living Will and expressing your funeral wishes. The MyFuneral™ service allows you to describe everything related to your funeral wishes, including whether you wish to be buried or cremated, and if buried, whether you wish to be buried underground or at sea.

Combined with our MyKeyholders™ service, you can document your funeral wishes and ensure that your wishes are placed into the hands of the people who need them, at the right time. The best way to learn about the different options within the MyFuneral™ service is simply to step through the service, but we will try to address some additional questions here.

What are different types of burial?

The expressions "body burial" or "direct burial" are used to describe placing your body in the ground after you have died. It can also include storing your body in some kind of mausoleum above ground. In South Africa, in 2023, around 75% of bodies were cremated. Cremation is rapidly overtaking burial as a means of handling a body.

What is embalming?

Embalming is a technique for preserving the body. There are a few reasons for doing this. Firstly, it protects the people handling the body from any highly contagious diseases. But it also preserves the body for any public viewing. Many cultures include a visitation or open coffin viewing of the body as a way of expressing their appreciation for the person who has died. If the body was not embalmed, then it would quickly become unviewable.

What are the costs of a more traditional burial?

In addition to the funeral home's basic services fee, costs often include embalming and dressing the body, rental of the funeral home for the viewing or service, and use of vehicles to transport the family if they don't use their own. The costs of a casket, cemetery plot or crypt and other funeral goods and services also must be factored in.

Can I be buried at home?

Yes. Home burials are legal as long as the bodies are placed at least two feet below the ground. The body must also be buried more than 50 metres from any water source, like a spring, or a well. It is also a good idea to contact your local authorities before performing a home burial, just so that local services are aware. The local police should know ahead of time, just in case they receive calls from neighbours.

Can I still be buried if I am donating my organs?

If you can chose to donate your organs, then yes, you can certainly still be buried. If you have chosen to donate your whole body to medical science, then usually the research institute will cremate your body. You can still have the remains returned to your family and loved-ones after the completion of any scientific work.

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