Grave vandalism costly

2019-03-19 06:00
Ongoing of vandalism at the Maitland Cemetery in recent times is resulting in major renovation costs.PHOTO: thabang kuaho

Ongoing of vandalism at the Maitland Cemetery in recent times is resulting in major renovation costs.PHOTO: thabang kuaho

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Cemeteries across the City of Cape Town are prone to vandalism and it costs the City a lot of money to repair the damages. One of these cemeteries is the Maitland Cemetery, the largest in the City. The cemetery stretches 3.5 km in length and is 113 hectares. It has 17 gates and 11 km of perimeter fencing, making it difficult for the City to secure. The historical stone walls along Voortrekker Road are regularly damaged by vehicles.

Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said the earliest recorded graves at the cemetery dates back to 1886 and the place is home to over half a million graves. “The City is responsible for the maintenance of the entire cemetery. Memorial upkeep remains the responsibility of the next of kin of the deceased. Sadly, many graves and memorials are neglected, yet this private burial space may not be reused and therefore reverts to the City and its ratepayers to maintain the cemetery in perpetuity,” he said.

Alcohol consumption at cemeteries is something that Badroodien also discouraged. According to the Cemeteries, Crematoria and Funeral Undertakers By-Laws 2011 Chapter 5 (21) (1) (t), such acts are prohibited and does not allow people to bring in alcohol into or consume any alcohol in a cemetery. Asked whether there were plans to renovate the cemetery, Badroodien said the City was focusing on making provision for the high demand of 270 burials per month. “As the cemetery becomes full, families are starting to request to reuse their graves for additional burials or cremated remains so as to avoid having to bury family members in other cemeteries,” he explained.

He said that this cemetery will eventually become a cultural park and a place of historical significance where visitors from all over the world may choose to visit their ancestors. An estimated R2m is planned to be spent on the next phase of roads and infrastructure upgrades in the 2019/20 financial year across the City.

Badroodien explained that upgrading of Maitland Cemetery was subject to the availability of funds. Internal roads are also being upgraded annually to ensure access for thousands of mourners on weekends. “Repairs and maintenance are an ongoing responsibility of the Recreation and Parks Department,” he concluded.

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