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Steps when Repatriating a Body from South Africa to Zimbabwe

What to do when your loved one passes away in South Africa

Conservative estimates put the number of Zimbabweans in South Africa at over 3 million. If you live in Zimbabwe, chances are high that you have a friend, brother, sister or relative living and working down south. Zimbabwe’s neighbor to the West, Botswana, has a population of around 1.5 million. What that means is that there are more Zimbabweans in South African than Tswana’s in Botswana. But, why are we throwing around these statistics? And what are the steps when repatriating a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe?

Death, the only constant

death is one of the few constants in life

The life of a human being is, without doubt, complex. Yet, for all its complexities, there are a few set, fast rules. One of these is that we will all die at some point. The thing that makes humans human is that when our time finally comes, we expect those around us to celebrate our departure and honor our remains in one way or the other.

With over 3 million Zimbabweans in South Africa, it only follows that a lot of people are going to die every single day. That’s particularly the case, considering the crime statistics that prevail down South. Much of this thievery and murder, South Africans like to point out, is perpetrated by Zimbabweans. Of course, there is a xenophobic dimension to this claim. Yet it remains a fact that a lot of Zimbabweans die in South African every single day.

How many Zimbabweans die in South Africa every day?

So, what’s the number of Zimbabweans who perish in South Africa on any given day? The number is going to be different for each day, of course. However, funeral homes say they repatriate about 20 Zimbabwean cadavers each and every day. Again, before you are shocked by this figure, just consider that there is a whole nation of Zimbabweans in South Africa.

This number, however, could be just the tip of the iceberg. Talk to a Zimbabwean who has been in South African for any given amount of time, and you will be told that a lot of people are buried over there for the simple reason that it costs so much to get a body back to Zimbabwe. Many of these burials happen without even the presence of family members.

How to repatriate a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe

Should a loved one die in South Africa, there are a number of steps that you need to take in order to get the body back to Zimbabwe for burial. These procedures often take a number of days, making it necessary for you to dedicate a lot of time to their accomplishment. So, what are the requirements for repatriating a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe?

Requirements for repatriating a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe

The following are some of the things that you will need to obtain in order to repatriate a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe;

  1. A post mortem report
  2. A non infectious disease certificate. This is obtained from a doctor at the hospital where the deceased passed away.
  3. A death certificate.
  4. An embalment and cremation certificate
  5. An export permit

What happens if the passport cannot be found?

If the deceased’s passport is unavailable, which tends to be the case for many Zimbabweans in South Africa, then you will need to approach the Zimbabwean embassy for help. The following documents will be required at the Embassy

  • A Zimbabwean identity card or birth certificate belonging to the deceased or
  • An affidavit mentioning whether or not the deceased had a passport and lost it, or whether he or she never had a passport in the first place. In case you do not know whether or not your relative ever had a passport, this is something that you need to mention in the affidavit.

How long does it take to repatriate a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe?

The time that is going to be taken to repatriate a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe is usually around 3 to 4 days. However, that is all going to depend on a number of circumstances. If everything is in place, then you can get the paperwork done in 3-4 days. However, if some things, such as the passport, are missing, then you will need more time to repatriate your relative from South Africa to Zimbabwe. 

When the documentation is completed

Once all the documentation has been completed, the papers need to be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Harare. Only after that can the body be repatriated to Zimbabwe. As soon as they have all the papers, the South African undertaker that you have hired to help with the process of repatriating your relative’s body will contact their counterparts in Zimbabwe to help expedite the process.

If the deceased had a funeral plan in Zimbabwe, then this makes things a lot easier as they will handle all the processes on the Zimbabwean side.

Repatriation of body from South African to Zimbabwe by Air

repatriating a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe by air

Should you decide to have the body of your loved one repatriated to Zimbabwe from South Africa by air, then you should organize with a funeral parlor in Zimbabwe to help organize the process.

You do this by faxing contact details of the undertakers who are handling the body in South Africa, as well as the contact details of the deceased’s next of kin both in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

This is important, because the undertakers in Zimbabwe will have to organize an import permit for the deceased. They will also need to send a vehicle to collect the body from the airport.

The importance of getting funeral policies in South Africa

Most Zimbabweans in South Africa do not have funeral policies. This puts a heavy burden on their relatives when they die. That is why it is so important for people to get funeral policies if they wish to be buried in Zimbabwe. Fortunately, familiar names such as Doves and Nyaradzo now have a presence in South Africa. This makes it easy for Zimbabweans to join and to be repatriated when then die.

How much does it cost to repatriate a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe?

The amount that is going to be needed to repatriate a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe varies depending on whether the deceased is being send home by air or by road. When repatriating the body by road, the cost will also depend on the options that you choose. On average, you need R25000 to repatriate a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe by road and you need R50000 to get a body from South Africa to Zimbabwe by air. These figures include the costs of getting all the paperwork and having the body embalmed in South Africa, as well as the money that you will need to pay to pay for a coffin.

Away from the grimness of death, here is how to pay DSTV Zimbabwe accounts in South Africa. Coming home for the holidays? Here is everything that you need to know about whether or not you can bring your DSTV smartcard with you.

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