No room for the dead

2010-05-24 00:00

A BURIAL disaster is looming for the city of Pietermaritzburg because by this time next month, there will be no more space to lay the dead to rest. Already bodies are being buried on road reserves.

During her presentation to the parliamentary ad hoc committee on service delivery at Winston Churchill Theatre last week, acting deputy municipal manager for community services Dr Nomasonto Nkosi said: “We are left with less than one month of burial space and it has become critical. This needs to be given urgent attention.”

Dr Nkosi said the establishment of the Hollingwood Cemetery is one of seven municipal projects that were interrupted because of the municipality’s dire financial situation.

The Witness understands that another reason for the delay in getting the cemetery started has to do with the pickets staged by Sobantu residents last year. Residents of this township, which borders the Hollingwood land, wanted the municipality to build houses on the land instead.

Some invaded the plot and vowed to start building for themselves.

Earlier this year, The Witness reported that the executive committee (Exco) had decided to set aside R500 000 to conduct a feasibility survey for a housing project next to the proposed cemetery.

However, the provincial intervention took place soon afterwards and the matter has not been raised since.

The Witness has learnt that the municipality should have started making use of the Hollingwood land for burial six months ago, and because the clock was ticking, they were given special permission to develop the land in such a way that they could start burying the dead before the whole cemetery was completed.

Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr said he was not aware that the city has less than one month of burial space left, as the matter had not been brought to Exco for deliberation.

“If it’s true, then we need to deal with it quickly. There are laws [about] where you can bury people,” he said.

Democratic Alliance councillor Sandy Lyne, a ward councillor who is also a member of the community services committee, said she is aware of the situation and it is very worrying.

She said that although the intervention team is being very careful with how they spend the municipality’s funds, she is sure they will give the matter urgent attention.

Inkatha Freedom Party caucus leader Dolo Zondi said: “We need to speed up the issue of the Hollingwood Cemetery. This is a critical issue. People cannot afford to stay with the dead for longer than necessary.”

He said there needs to be an amicable solution between the municipality and the Sobantu residents protesting over the land.

“We value the dead. The longer it takes for the Hollingwood Cemetery to be established, the worse things will become. This must be seen to,” he added.

 

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