Caring for the dead

2018-07-02 16:00
Lincoln Meade resident Juliana Pole pulling up weeds from one of the graves at the Ethembeni memorial cemetery.

Lincoln Meade resident Juliana Pole pulling up weeds from one of the graves at the Ethembeni memorial cemetery. (Nhlanhla Nkosi)

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Overgrown grass and weeds at the Ethembeni Memorial Park in Lincoln Meade has prompted a local pensioner, Juliana Pole, to take it upon herself to clean gravesites at a small fee.

Pole, who visits the site to check on the state of a friend’s son’s gravesite, said she was shocked to find the place in ruins two weeks ago.

At just a R100 per month, Pole is offering to clean individual grave sites by cutting the overgrown grass and cleaning the tombstone.

“This place is a disgrace,” she said.

“For our ancestors to lie here … in this mess is horrible. How are they expected to rest in peace?”

Pole said she saw the state of affairs as an opportunity to create employment opportunities for the unemployed youth.

“What I’m trying to do is part of community service.

“The cemetery looks terrible and something needs to be done. The only way I feel personally that it will be well kept, is if people contribute a fee a month so that the graves are mantained.

“There is so much here that can be done to make it pleasant for people who come to visit their relatives.”

Pole, who has already started advertising her services through her Facebook page Grave Site Cleaners, said she intended to begin the maintenance on Monday.

“It’s dreadful. I wouldn’t want to come and lie here. No one is worried about maintaining it. You can’t even walk between the graves because of the holes. Some graves are collapsing.”

A resident who recently erected a tombstone at the cemetery, who was there on Thursday said she feared for her safety every time she visited the site.

“What if I’m bitten by a snake? The grass is so long and thieves can come in and hide and rob people. The security guard told us it hasn’t been mantained for three weeks.”

The resident said it was disappointing that there was no one on site and that the front office had been left abandoned.

The Witness has reported on the plight of Pietermaritzburg residents who could not erect tombstones, claiming that the management could not give them grave numbers where their loved ones are buried.

In February, another resident was shocked to find a loved one’s grave defaced and robbed of its tombstone.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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