Graveyard theft distresses

The South Park cemetery in Bloemfontein is a “happy hunting ground” for thieves who are stealing tombstones worth thousands of rands.

The spate of theft of these memorials continues at an alarming rate in Bloemfontein, raising strong suspicions that funeral undertakers are part of the shameful crime of getting these items back to their place of business.

Express has been inundated by reports from disgusted families who discovered graves of their loved ones uncovered, with no memorials on them.

The syndicate targets mainly graves with complete granite tombstones, both headstones and flat slabs. The prices of these memorials differ, with the cheapest ranging between R20 000 and R30 000.

As thieves continue unaba-ted in stealing tombstones, the police is unable to crack down on the syndicate.

The latest casualties of grave tampering are the May, Sani and Choane families, who expressed utter disgust upon finding the graves of their loved ones open and tombstones nowhere to be found after recent customary visits.

Complete sets of tombstones (a headstone and flat slab) at the graves of Bereng Choane and David Sani had been stolen. Thieves also took the headstone from the grave of Nomathemba May.

A distressed Lydia Sani said this was the second time the grave of her late husband had been tampered with.

“It is worse this time, because thieves took the headstone and the flat slab. The first time was shortly after the burial in 2011, when thieves took only the headstone. I had to replace the stolen one. In total, I have spent no less than R31 000 to keep a monument to my husband,” she said.

Lydia said two days after the shocking discovery, she returned to the grave to find the part engraved with the name of her spouse back on the grave.

“The engraved part was originally on the headstone and was lying on the grave. Thieves had filled the grave with sand,” she said.

Steven May said he had payed R8 500 for the headstone of his late wife, Nomathemba.

“It is hardly a year since I have buried my wife with dignity, and now there is nothing to show her memories.

“This is hurting and a complete shame,” he said.

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