Cemetery in shocking state

2011-12-22 00:00

THE shocking state of Mountain Rise cemetery, with grass so long and thick that it is difficult to reach the graves of loved ones, has again got city residents up in arms.

A parent who lost his daughter less than a year ago went to place flowers on her grave recently.

“This will be our first Christmas without her. I was shocked at what I found; the grass was so high that I struggled to get to the grave,” said the father, who did not want to be named.

The Witness has run several stories in the past about the haphazard manner in which grass gets cut at the cemetery and there appears to be no roster. The reason given in the past for the grass not being cut was that the cash-strapped municipality did not have money for the service.

However, the municipality now has money in its coffers and as from the beginning of the new year it will no longer be under administration.

An angry family at the cemetery yesterday afternoon could not locate the grave of a loved one.

They went to confront the cemetery staff, who appeared just as baffled as to why the grass was not cut when staff from the parks department had been there days before to see what needed to be done.

At last week’s council meeting, councillor Roger Ashe raised the issue of the poor state of the cemetery and the need for something to be done because he said the Christmas period sees the most visitors to the cemetery.

Ashe said he had personally visited the cemetery and it was not just the problem with long grass and thick undergrowth, but there were a number of water leaks.

Acting Municipal Manager Thokozani Maseko assured him that grass-cutting at the cemetery was being prioritised “as we speak.”

On the leaks, Ashe said there was confusion as to who was in charge.

He was told by the water section that because the leaks were within the cemetery, the responsibility to sort them out belonged to the parks department.

In turn, the parks department felt the water section should be fixing the leaks. Mayor Chris Ndlela said there was a need to open the channels of communication at management level and in the portfolio committees to sort out the problem as soon as possible.

The Witness sent e-mails to the senior managers at Msunduzi Municipality specifically querying whether two days (today and Friday) was sufficient time to cut the grass before Christmas Day on Sunday, and whether grass-cutting could stretch to Saturday, when staff will expect to be paid overtime.

Acting Deputy Municipal Manager for Community Services Kwenza Khumalo said the grass would definitely be cut before Christmas Day.

He said there was no issue of overtime and there were a number of contractors on the municipality’s database to do the job.

At present, contracts were being sorted out through the municipality’s supply chain procedures. He said two days were enough time to get the job done and that they did not want to start earlier because the grass grew very fast during the rainy season.

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