The legacy of the initial ruling by the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee that bodies should be encased in plastic has been traumatic and catastrophic for many rural African families. For these families, the key to a successful burial is ‘fetching the spirit’ from the place of death and safely returning it home. This requires constant communication with the spirit of the deceased.
Professor Leslie Bank is deputy executive director at the HSRC in Cape Town and Aneza Madini is a junior researcher with a master’s degree in economics at the same office. Prof Bank is a co-author with Mark Paterson and Dr Nelly Vuyokazi Sharpley, Walter Sisulu University, of a report for the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council (ECSECC) titled “Closing the Gate: Death, Dignity and Distress in Rural Eastern Cape in the Time of Covid-19”.