eThekwini denies mass burial plan

2010-09-29 00:00

THE head of the eThekwini Municipality’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Unit (PRC) has dismissed suggestions that the city is planning to bury human remains interred at Loon Road Cemetery in a single mass grave.

The city plans to recycle the graveyard for re-use in the next two months, but insists that families should not look on the process as second burials and should not be involved in the relocating of remains.

This follows reports that the city has run short of burial space and is to resort to digging up human remains and re-bury them in one mass grave to make room for new graves.

But Thembinkosi Ngcobo, head of PRC, told The Witness yesterday that although the city is running short of space for new burials, “there was never talk of a mass grave for all human remains dug up at Loon Road Cemetery, or anywhere else for that matter”.

Ngcobo said the remains in each grave will be exhumed and a new grave created on the side of the cemetery (Memorial Park), where they they will be reburied individually but in very much smaller graves.

He said this will allow family members and loved ones to visit graves at the new Memorial Park as they normally do when visiting graves of loved ones at the graveyard.

Ngcobo said the city decided to use the Loon Road Cemetery as a pilot because it is the oldest one.

“Other cemeteries will then follow suit,” he said, adding that recycling of graveyards is not a new thing and became necessary when there was no longer any more land space for new burials.

All the graves that are not under lease and are over 10 years old will be recycled.

Ngcobo said the city has not received objections since placing notices in newspapers about its plans. However, concerns have been raised, mainly by black people asking how the reburials are to be conducted and how it will affect their culture and beliefs.

He said the digging up of the human remains and reburying them is an administrative process and families need not be involved as this might seem like a second funeral for their loved ones.

While it will cost R20 million to establish a new cemetery, recycling the existing Loon Road Cemetery will cost only about R350 000.

In a statement early this month, the municipality revealed that out of its 60 cemeteries, only one has fresh graves available.


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