A skyrocketing death rate has caused a dearth of burial space in the world's most AIDS-afflicted nation, South African cemetery officials say. In Durban, the largest city in the worst-affected province of KwaZulu-Natal, the city's cemetery department last week said the amount of land it needs each year has doubled in the last decade to more than 12 hectares, a graveyard boom "caused by the scourge of HIV/AIDS in our society." Pretoria officials said all of the capital's existing graveyards would be full by 2009, while Cape Town officials said the 33 hectares currently available will run out in two years.
Because HIV typically takes around 10 years to progress to AIDS, the large upswing in HIV infections from the early 1990s is beginning to take its toll in the country. "About five years ago we were burying around eight bodies on a Saturday. Now we are burying anything between 45 and 50," said South African cemetery official Thembinkosi Ngcobo. (Reuters)