Updated 01.06.2021

5 Unexpected Funeral Costs in South Africa

Death is inevitable but so is the funeral cost associated with it. The bills don’t stop even when mourning for the loss of a loved one. What’s worse is that those who are left must shoulder expensive burial expenses.

Funeral costs have increased by as much as 12% during the past years, according to a report from StatsSA. Here’s a breakdown of how much you’ll spend on average to hold a proper funeral and all services related to it.

1) Caskets and cremations

The casket will probably take the biggest chunk in funeral costs in South Africa. A coffin with a plain design costs an average of R700, while a casket with a basic style costs around R8 000. High-end coffins with lavish designs are valued around R37 000 to R50 000. 

Cremation is a more practical option to reduce SA funeral costs. Chapel cremation starts at R9 000, while a private cremation is priced at R5 000. There’s also a cremation form that you should get from a doctor, and this will cost an additional R600. The cost of the urn ranges from R400 to R3 500, depending on the design.  

Many churches don’t charge a fee for holding a funeral ceremony. However, some may ask for a fee of R1 000 to R2 000 with varying inclusions. 

Crematoriums offer a so-called “niche memorial” wherein the ashes of two loved ones are placed together inside a hole in a concrete block. This process costs around R7 000 which is cheaper than doing the cremation separately for each individual.

2) Burial plots, tombstones, and columbaries

The cost of the burial plot will depend on the location. Major cities like Johannesburg and similar urban areas will charge around R2 000 up to R6 000. On the other hand, plots in rural areas can cost as low as R300.

For tombstones, a modest one will cost R1 500, while a more stylish and personalized design is priced at around R7 000.

3) Food, flowers, and programmes

Food contributes to a big part of the funeral cost during the ceremony to honour the dead. Depending on the kind of food to be served, meals or snacks will cost at least R30 per head to feed the attendees. 

If you want to get a goat or a cow as sacrificial livestock, prepare around R1 000 to R6 000.

Aside from the cost of food and the church ceremony, there’s also the cost of printing the funeral programme and the arrangement of flowers. The printing will range from R10 to R15 each, while flowers can cost more than R1 000.

4) Venues

The venue is another matter and will cost an additional R10 000, depending on where you want to hold the service. If you need a tent to accommodate guests, prepare an additional R500 to R5 000.

Hiring buses to transport families and relatives from one venue to another will also push up the costs.

5) Funeral homes and related services

Regardless if you want to cremate or bury your loved one, you’ll need an undertaker and a funeral home to take care of the body. The storage of the body, processing of the death certificate and related documents, and the use of the hearse all contribute to funeral costs. All these services will cost you at least R4 000. The expenses may even be higher and reach R10 000 if the body needs to be transported across the border. 

Overall, funerals can cost anything between R6 000 to R50 000 or more. Funeral expenses can be estimated according to the household income of the family.  

Entry-level funeral services for low-income families will usually be around R6 000. Middle-income earners will usually spend R12 000 to R50 000. The high-income group will not hesitate to spend over R500 000 to give their loved ones a decent burial ceremony.

ALSO LEARN: How to Choose the Best Funeral Cover

Getting a Funeral Plan

The expensive funeral costs and the hassle of worrying about the numerous processes and documents are the reason why many people prefer to get funeral insurance. Almost 19 million citizens are covered by a funeral plan.  

An insurance plan can provide your loved ones with a lump-sum payment they can use to cover funeral costs. This will reduce the financial burden on your family and make sure they have money to recover from their loss.

Alternatively, you can also consider joining a burial society. There are currently more than a hundred thousand burial societies in South Africa. These groups are designed to assist those in the low-income bracket through financial aids.

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