Cemetery a grave concern

2019-10-10 06:01
Khayelitsha graveyard has been left bare after thugs stole the fence along Steve Biko Drive. PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

Khayelitsha graveyard has been left bare after thugs stole the fence along Steve Biko Drive. PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

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Graves and graveyards are generally respected places and are seen as resting spots for the deceased, however, that does not seem to be the case in Khayelitsha.

There is no resting for the dead as criminals see the local graveyard as a spot for scavenging for a bit of cash.

The once protected and dignified graveyard has now turned into a free for all for criminals and a grazing field for animals.

According to Endlovini residents, this has escalated over the last few months. Endlovini is adjacent to the graveyard and according to the community, there has been a surge in criminal activities at the cemetery. They are calling on the City of Cape Town to beef up security around the cemetery.

Resident Mziwakhe Nconyiwe described the vandalism of the graveyard as a sign of disrespect by the criminals. He said thugs started stripping the graveyard of the fence more than three months ago, and it is now completely bare. “The graves are opened there is no fence. People from Tafelsig are crossing the cemetery when they are coming to Khayelitsha,” said Nconyiwe.

He described the graveyard as a respected place where not everyone can go. “The City needs to fix it and beef up the security to ensure it is safe,” he said adding that most of the time the criminals steal at night.

Ward 99 councillor Bongile Ngcani said he is aware of the vandalism. He said he reported the damage to the relevant people. “People who are stealing the fence are drug addicts and sell it to get cash so they can feed their habit. Last year the City repaired cemetery 2 and now they are vandalising cemetery 1,” he said.

When City Vision visited the cemetery almost all of the fence along Steve Biko Road was stolen and some part along Swartkilp Road.

Mayoral committee member for community service and health, Zahid Badroodien, said the recreation and parks department is aware of the stolen fence. “The department strives to keep all its facilities at an acceptable maintenance standard hence the fence will be repaired.” However, the continuous replacement of the stolen fence is not sustainable, he said. He added that the department plans to replace the steel palisade fencing with concrete palisade fencing. However, this is an expensive exercise and depends on budget availability. Badroodien urged residents to take ownership of these facilities and report cases of vandalism.

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