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Menings
Hamlet’s gravediggers would strike it rich in SA

This is a plea to all the ANC bigwigs to stay alive as long as they can and try not to kick the bucket unless they absolutely have to.

While Winnie Mandela’s coffin was led away, serviettes to wipe away the tears cost R120 each.Photo: DEAAN VIVIER

We cannot afford any more state funerals at R37 million a throw, or lowering as the case may be, which is what Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s interment cost; or Zola Skweyiya’s at R28.9 m; or even Billy Modise’s at a mere R10 m.

So hang in there, chaps. And ladies, too. Naturally we’ll miss you when you do selfishly go, but we’ll miss the multimillions we have to fork out to mourn your departure even more.

And when that event does occur, go straight to heaven, don’t stop at GO. Winnie hung around in spirit for 10 days for official farewells and memorials, while 12 air coolers cost R624 000, pot plants R186 000, carpets R639 000, orchestral equipment R696 000 and 3 500 serviettes (for wiping of eyes?) R420 000 – that’s R120 per serviette by my reckoning.

In total it still left more than R34 m for other incidentals.

Winnie hung around in spirit for 10 days for official farewells and 3 500 serviettes cost R420 000.

The digging of the graves for Winnie, Skweyiya and Modise cost R10 000 each. That made the gravediggers the best paid in the world. They must have had to struggle with koffieklip, as we call it. The amount alone would have made the two clowns who dug the grave in Shakespeare’s Hamlet wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. In fact it would make any present day South African gravedigger think he had struck it rich.

The clown who unearthed the skull (“Alas, poor Yorik’s” in Hamlet’s immortal words), when asked how long it took a corpse to rot, said some turned rotten before they died. And he knew nothing of South African politicians.

Sammy Mashita, project manager of Crocia Events, the company with the state funeral tender, said the three funerals could have cost R274 m, but didn’t because he was pricked by his “business conscience”. It must have been a small prick, as he later confessed: “We got lucky and rode this luck.”

Certainly luckier that we taxpayers who are hoping nobody in the ANC dies again soon.

Is it not time the government took out a state funeral plan? I’ve been studying all the options being offered. One bank is asking a monthly premium of only R40 for a pay-out of R10 000, which would at least cover the gravedigging costs.

Another will pay out R100 000, with no premium increases for the first 12 months, for the main deceased, and his spouse, and up to five children, and 11 extended family members (but nothing for anyone with four spouses and 22 children, unfortunately). A third offers cover up to R500 000 (more than enough for serviettes) at a premium of R190 a month, “with grocery benefits”.

Perhaps the minister in charge, Patricia de Lille, can do something before the next VIP pops his cork.

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