Arrange traditional expenses, such as a goat or cow to be slaughtered

Traditional funerals

With a traditional funeral, the actual burial can take place anytime from 24 hours to two weeks after the death took place, depending on religious or cultural traditions.

Many cultures in South Africa require the sacrificing of livestock. A goat can cost around R2,000 and a cow can cost around R10,000.

Steps for a traditional funeral:

  1. The deceased is usually taken in a coffin to the home of the family the day before the funeral. The family may hold a night vigil where the deceased can be viewed for the last time and religious, traditional or cultural rites can be performed. Some prefer to have a viewing on the morning of the funeral.
  2. The next morning a tribute or memorial service is usually held at a church or chosen venue.
  3. After the memorial service, the mourners go to the cemetery or place of interment where a short service or traditional, religious or cultural observances are performed.
  4. After the interment, the mourners will usually go to a venue where food and refreshments are served. This can also be a time to celebrate the life of the deceased.

Pre-arranged funerals

These are funerals that are arranged and paid for in advance. You can choose everything you want for the funeral ahead of time, including:

  • coffin or casket
  • clothing
  • music
  • flowers
  • cemetery or cremation

It is helpful as it takes the burden off the shoulders of loved ones having to arrange and pay for the funeral.


An exhumation is when a body is removed from a grave and relocated to a new grave. Sometimes the remains may be cremated, so there doesn’t necessarily need to be a re-burial.

Permissions from many governmental entities and departments will need to be obtained for any exhumation.

The Department of Home Affairs, and an undertaker, can help.

* Please note that this is a general outline of a traditional funeral. There are many different cultural and religious practices in South Africa, but this guide covers the basics.
* Costs are estimate figures for planning purposes only