Confusion over land for burials

2016-05-13 08:27
(File, iStock)

(File, iStock)

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Pietermaritzburg - Confusion reigned at Thrusday’s Msunduzi executive committee meeting when a debate erupted surrounding the purchase of land for a new cemetery.

Given the lack of space and ­overcrowding at Mountain Rise ­cemetery, the municipality is looking to buy land at Lamonts Vale farm on the Richmond Road for a new facility.

Recommendations were passed last week after the deputy municipal ­manager for economic ­development Dr Ray Ngcobo said the city would only buy the portion of the land that was suitable for burials, and not the entire farm.

However, acting municipal manager Boniwe Zulu this week told councillors that the entire farm would be bought.

In September last year, a report to council revealed that only 20% of the land was suitable for burial space, while 40% was “partially suitable”. At that time, suspended municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said the municipality might have to invest in the land to make it “more suitable”.

DA councillor Judith Lawrence yesterday raised her concerns, ­saying they were initially told that 225 hectares of land would be bought for R20 million.

“We need to re-look at how much we are spending for how much land. I want to understand whether the 225 hectares is the ­entire farm or portions of the land,” she said.

However, Zulu stood her ground, saying that the entire farm would be bought — including the suitable and unsuitable land.

“We are all aware that ­Mountain Rise has reached its ­sell-by date. What are our other options?” she asked.

Although there was no clarity given on whether the city would buy portions of the land or the ­entire farm, a council resolution was passed last week that only suitable land for burial purposes would be bought due to the urgency of the matter.

“This is a lot of money and it affects lots of people. Last week, Dr Ngcobo said we will buy portions of the land. Today we are told we are buying all the land,” said DA councillor Bill Lambert.

Mayor Chris Ndlela attempted to ­settle the debate, saying that the ­recommendations had already been made and the city would start implementing them “without further delays”.

A previous report stated that the land would provide burial space for the next 45 years. The rest of the land would ­accommodate related infrastructure, ­including a crematorium, chapel, ­parking, and warehouses for foundries, plant and equipment, and a municipal depot. Warehouses would also be built and rented out to undertakers. ­Interleading roads and storm water drainage would also be built.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg  |  grave

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