Cable theft hits crematorium

2012-04-26 00:00

RAMPANT cable theft has left the Mountain Rise crematorium operating on a generator for the past three days.

Staff at the crematorium said they discovered that an electri­city pole had been cut down inside the cemetery by cable thieves on Sunday night.

“This has not affected the cremation services to the members of the public because we have been using a generator to keep work going on the crematorium since Monday,” said a staff member who did not want to be named.

Another staff member said the municipality should consi­der improving security because there are people who vandalise the cemetery in order to gain access so that they can steal electricity cables.

Mountain Rise crematorium has been so plagued by problems recently that concerned residents formed a crematorium crisis committee and gave the municipality four weeks to respond to their concerns.

It is alleged that Msunduzi Municipality lost about R715 000 after at least 650 cremations had to be moved to Durban or Port Shepstone after the cremators broke down last year.

Advocate Ranjiv Nirghin, chairperson of the crematorium crisis committee, said the municipality had responded.

“They have good plans in their short- and long-term strategies for the crematorium, which is a positive reaction,” he said.

Nirghin said the committee now had to arrange a meeting with the municipality to fuse the municipality’s ideas with their own.

“We will definitely keep the flames burning at the crematorium — without any pun intended.”

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma confirmed that an electricity cable had been stolen.

“It is also true that because we have a back-up generator, the service has not been affected, which is commendable.”

He said it did seem to be a deliberate exercise to steal the cable supplying the crematorium as it has happened twice already, and the municipality was even wondering if there were more sinister intentions than just cable theft.

“The problem is bigger than simply reporting to the police, we are thinking deeper than that to assist our security and the police to apprehend the culprits,” said Zuma.

He said the municipality has sent teams to Germiston, Braamfontein, Claire Estate in Durban as well as to kwaDukuza (Stanger) to look at how to improve the state of the crematorium as part of “inter-governmental relations where governments learn from one another how to conduct their business”.

The Witness saw that parts of the cemetery were in dire need of grass cutting as tomb stones peeped through the high grass.

Zuma said cutting was in progress.

“That is a vast area and we are going to cover the whole of it,” he said.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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