Burial vs Cremation

The choice is a very personal one. Decisions may be influenced by family tradition, religion or the wishes of the person who has died.


gravemarker1In South Africa a burial is likely to be in a local authorities/private cemetery. Subject to local regulations and availability, you normally have the choice between using a new or existing grave.

Existing graves

If a grave is already in existence, perhaps where another family member is already buried, we will need the title deed of the grave or the grave number and details of the cemetery. If these aren’t in your possession, we can help you locate them. We will also need to check that there is space for further burials. A document must be signed by a family member at the cemetery office, in order to give permission for opening of the grave.

New graves

When purchasing a new grave, one must take into account that some cemeteries now make provision for up to three persons that can be buried in one grave. Not all sections in the cemeteries make provision for full monumentals (Tombstones) afterwards and it is a trend that lawns over graves are very popular where only headstones are permitted. The lawns are maintained by the local authorities and maintenance costs for family members are reduced.


Burial fees

There may be fees for:

  • Purchasing a new grave
  • Opening or reopening the grave
  • Removal & replacement of existing memorial stones (Tombstones)

We will advise you on the local charges as it varies from area to area.


If you decide on a cremation, you can choose between a full cremation service or a memorial service (with or without the ashes present).

Many churches today have a Wall of Remembrance. It may be a good idea to postpone your memorial service until after the cremation, in order to have the interment of ashes taking place straight after the service. You can discuss your wishes with your Funeral Planner.

You may wish to have the deceased in a coffin present at a church/chapel service or another location before the actual cremation will take place. The service is then concluded with all family members, friends and those attending  leaving the church at the end of the service, to gather outside around the coffin/hearse. A final committal is done outside and an opportunity given for paying your last respects. This is the final moment for saying your goodbyes, and as the hearse leaves the premises with all those attending watching, it brings some sort of closure to the ceremony.

Whatever you decide, we can take care of the necessary arrangements for you.

The cremation is then done privately, normally not attended by family members. We make use of the services of a private crematorium, Cremos Cremations cc situated in Randfontein.

What to do with the Ashes of the Deceased

You may choose to scatter the Ashes in a favourite place, inter them in an existing grave or place them in a Wall of Remembrance. Visit our Pinterest Board for some creative ideas.

Container of Ashes

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What exactly is cremation

Cremation is a process of reducing the human body to bone fragments using high heat and flame.

What services are available with cremation

Any traditional funeral service with the body present can take place prior to the actual cremation. Or else, a memorial service can be held before/after the cremation.

Is a coffin required for cremation

Yes, a coffin is required for cremation.

Can the body be viewed before Cremation?

Yes, immediate family members may view the deceased prior to cremation in our private viewing room. The deceased is first prepared for viewing, i.e. washed and dressed.

Can the family be present during the cremation

No, there are no facilities at the private crematorium to accommodate family members.

Is cremation accepted by all religions ?

Today most religions allow cremation. Some people believe that cremation is against the teachings of the Bible, but it remains a very personal matter. Those who wish to be cremated should communicate their wishes to family members.

What happens when the body is presented for cremation?
The officials responsible ensure that :

  • The cremation has been reserved.
  • The cremation documents submitted comply with all legal requirements.
  • The details on the coffin correspond with those on the documents.

What do such legal requirements entail?

A. The cause of death (if Death by Natural Causes) must be confirmed by two independent medical practitioners. Then a Medical Referee assigned by the Council, grants consent that cremation may take place. This is done after he/she has ascertained that :

  • No foul play is suspected; and
  • The cremation is not contrary to the expressed wishes of the deceased.

B. In the event of an Unnatural Death, the Medical Referee will consent to cremation as soon as he/she has received the Schedule D, completed by the Pathologist who performed the autopsy.

Are all bodies cremated simultaneously at the Crematorium?

No, the crematorium can only accommodate one coffin at a time during the cremation process.

Possessions, clothing and decoration of the coffin

There are some restrictions on what can be included in a coffin. Your Funeral Director can advise on these.

clip_image004It is of utmost importance that you inform us of medical devices implanted into the deceased, such as a pacemaker, etc.

You may want to bring your own clothing for us to dress the deceased.

At Sonja Smith Funeral Group (Pty) Ltd, we allow you to write goodbye messages on the coffin. This is a good way of personalizing the funeral service and it does bring comfort to those left behind when reading the graffiti messages.