ANC does not value dead people - cultural commission

2015-05-26 14:45
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Johannesburg – The ANC-run eThekwini municipality is precipitating a crisis and disrespecting cultural values by recycling graves, the CRL Rights Commission said on Tuesday.

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) released a report on Tuesday entitled “The Re-Use of Graves by Local Government”.

Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi told reporters of a crisis, at a media briefing held ahead of the release of the report.

“For this to happen 21 years into democracy, for the ANC not to value the dead people, it tells you we are in a crisis,” she said.

“It tells us our values are not valued by those in power."

The commission had purportedly received “a ton” of complaints from residents in several municipalities around the country, but mainly from eThekwini.

The complaints included people being buried in other people’s graves, and tombstones being removed and replaced with those of unrelated people.

'A Smith buried on top of a Naidoo on top of a Mkhwanazi'

She said it was hard to reverse the effects, in terms of spirituality and cultural beliefs, of having “a Smith buried on top of a Naidoo on top of a Mkhwanazi”.

“If we allow the eThekwini municipality to continue, other municipalities are likely to gravitate towards doing this. The new struggle is to have access to our forefathers,” she said.

According to African beliefs, the ancestor is believed to be living with God and playing a prominent, intercessory role in the life of a particular family, she explained.

“This is your Jesus, it takes you to God,” she said.

When people spoke to their ancestors: “I call them from the grave, not from some black plastic bag where they have been recycled”.

“Recycling” a grave was akin to bombing a mosque, she said.

'One body one grave'

She said local government’s position on the matter was that suitable land for cemeteries was fast becoming depleted.

“They are making it a land struggle. What local government is saying is very dangerous.”

The first prize, she said, was “one body one grave”. A weak second option was for municipalities to discuss recycling graves with affected relatives and communities before doing it.

Mkhwanazi said the commission had held talks with local government, Parliament, the SA Local Government Association, and others.

“We are going to be much more aggressive. We’ve tried being nice. We are going to let the Constitution speak.”

She called for national legislation on the matter. If the practice continued, the commission would ask its lawyers to approach the courts for them to determine a way forward.

“We hope this thing can be solved over a cup of tea. We are willing to give it one more try within a couple of weeks,” she added.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  culture

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