Poor cemetery maintenance angers community

2012-08-20 00:00

THE community of Lions River near the Mandela Capture Site in Howick is angry with uMngeni Municipality for failing to maintain the Lions River Cemetery, which was recently destroyed by runaway fires.

Some now fear they won’t be able to identify the graves of their loved ones which were marked with wooden crosses, now charred.

Sibonelo Mweli whose parents are buried in the cemetery said he counted himself lucky because he is employed and can afford tombstones for his parents.

“But what about the poor communities who only use wooden crosses to identify the grave sites of their loved ones?” asked Mweli.

“I don’t understand how we can have a Mandela Capture site neighbouring the cemetery, but the cemetery is neglected by council as it has not been maintained properly in the last four years.”

Mweli said the community has been pleading with the municipality to maintain the cemetery, but to date nothing has been done.

“The only time the site is clear is when someone drops a lit cigarette by mistake and then the entire cemetery is burnt,” Mweli said. He also complained about the need for fencing around the cemetery.

Thulisile Mchunu said her father is buried there.

“We believe that the municipality does not care about this community because the only services we get is water and electricity, but refuse collection is not provided for.”

She said she can’t even identify her father’s grave because the crosses are burnt.

uMngeni Municipality’s acting municipal manager Steve Simpson in a statement denied that the cemetery has not been maintained for the previous four years.

“Grass cutting has been executed on a regular basis, and is included in the programme for grass cutting maintenance for all municipal land.”

He said that during the last 12 months financial problems had impacted on regular maintenance, but this was being addressed.

“A supervisor is in charge of all cemeteries within our area of jurisdiction and reports any needs relating to these places of rest.”

He said should an unplanned fire or runaway fire cause damage to wooden crosses, identification of graves would not present a problem as the resident cemetery general worker keeps layout plans updated, in consultation with the supervisor and in accordance with legislation a register of burials is kept.

“Should any disaster occur, our municipality has a department which attends to disaster management,” he added.

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