Graves chaos at cemetery

2016-04-05 13:15
Makhosi Mbanjwa stands next to the damaged grave of her daughter at Mountain Rise Cemetery.

Makhosi Mbanjwa stands next to the damaged grave of her daughter at Mountain Rise Cemetery. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermartizburg - A grieving mother wants answers ­after finding her daughter’s headstone and grave at the Mountain Rise cemetery severely damaged.

Makhosi Mbanjwa said she was notified by a family friend on Sunday that her daughter’s grave was one of almost 50 graves that were destroyed by a flood of water, apparently from a burst pipe.

“I had to go today to see for myself and I am so saddened by what I saw,” she said yesterday.

Mbanjwa’s youngest daughter, ­Sinegugu Queen Mbanjwa (23), died in January this year and the family erected a granite headstone and slab worth more than R34 000 in February.

“I am still grieving the sudden death of my child and went out of my way to make sure her grave was beautiful. To see my child’s grave in this condition now is heartbreaking,” she said.

The Witness visited the grave sites that were damaged and found a trench dug seemingly to find the source of a burst pipe. Layers of mud, still damp, seemed to have been dug out, creating the trench.

However, acting Msunduzi spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the municipality was aware of the damage to the graves, which “was caused by the recent flash floods we had in Pietermaritzburg”.

“The cemetery staff are currently working on sites to restore the graves to the condition they were in before,” she said.

The trails of water and damp mud led directly to about 50 graves that were ­severely damaged.

Some were found to have sunk in, with deep holes now where the graves used to be. Others were completely flattened by the gushing water.

Crosses and bunches of flowers lay lop-sided near the graves they were placed on.

“These families need to come and see if their loved ones’ graves are damaged. I don’t know how people are going to find the graves as they are flat and sunken and the markings have been washed away,” Mbanjwa said.

Madonda added that the “flattened” graves were not yet filled, but had been dug and were waiting to be used.

Mbanjwa had not yet reported the matter to the municipality, but said she would do so yesterday.

“I really hope the municipal workers reported the damage to the municipality, and that the municipality can give us ­answers as to who will be responsible for fixing the damages,” she said.

Her daughter’s was the only grave in that area to have a headstone. The stone has cracked and the granite slab has ­lifted, leaving the grave open.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  grave

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