News

Too stressed to burn

Namibia is a small country, with a population of just 2.5 million.

It also has just one cremation officer, Obed Haraseb, 44, based at the crematorium at the Pionierspark cemetery, in the capital city, Windhoek. In the whole country, only Haraseb is qualified and experienced enough to operate the oven.

And he has been on extended sick leave since April due to stress.

Naturally, the bodies have been mounting up…hundreds of them. More than 300 unclaimed bodies in the police mortuary alone; some of them have been there since 2008.

Windhoek’s authorities built in 2015 a new crematorium but it’s never been operational, and Haraseb has had to make do with just one oven. A further frustration for him is that the city has apparently been ignoring his requests for gloves, masks and a strong air freshener to get rid of the smell of decomposed bodies.