A non-profit organisation, Vus’Isizwe, has been roped in by the Sol Plaatje Municipality to partner with the local authority in cleaning cemeteries in Kimberley.
A NON-profit organisation (NPO), Vus’Isizwe, has been roped in by the Sol Plaatje Municipality to partner with the local authority in cleaning cemeteries in Kimberley.
This follows complaints from city residents that the cemeteries are overgrown and not maintained.
Many residents also pointed out that the local cemeteries are “crime hot spots” and are often used by criminals as “hideouts” because of the overgrown grass and vegetation.
“The state of the cemeteries in this city is disgraceful. One feels guilty to bury your loved ones in such unmaintained premises,” said one group of aggrieved residents.
“We have seen so many gravesites that are vandalised and even heard of reports that stolen property is hidden in the cemeteries. Other people have fallen victim to crime – like robberies and rape incidents in some of our cemeteries. That is because the criminals have realised that the overgrown grass helps in hiding their deeds and activities.
“Many drug users also go and sit at the cemeteries and smoke drugs. They sit in the long grass, which is more than a metre tall. It is difficult to see anyone hiding in the long grass.
“The municipality needs to hang its head in shame as the cemeteries are places where we should be paying our last respects to those who have died.”
Another resident pointed out that the overgrown grass made it difficult to identify the gravesites of loved ones.
“This place is in such a state that I was unable to locate my late mother’s gravesite … I had to pull long grass back and try and read the gravestones, but was still unsuccessful in my search. I later gave up and went back home.”
She added that the cemetery had been “partly cleaned”.
“One could see there were some areas that were cleaned and grass removed. However, there are still parts that were not cleaned. I am not sure if the municipal workers only focus on a certain area or not. It was sad that I had to go back home without even paying my respects.”
Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Thoko Riet said on Tuesday that the local authority had launched a clean-up campaign that focused on cemeteries.
“On Friday, March 11, 2022, we officially launched the cleaning of the cemeteries in our city. We started with ABC, West End Cemetery and Phuthanang Cemetery and the campaign is still ongoing,” said Riet.
“We have a team of 549 workers from an NPO assisting the municipality in cleaning the cemeteries and there have been immense improvements, however, with the recent rains there might have been overgrown grass, but the teams are working hard to clean the cemeteries.
“We are now satisfied with Phutanang Cemetery and we are extending the team to Ramatshela, Gladstone and Pioneer cemeteries. There is a team working at Kenilworth Cemetery currently.”
Riet added that the recent rains had hampered the process.
“With the continuous rains that we have been getting it has had an impact, but the teams have been working really hard to keep our cemeteries clean. We have recently bought a product that will assist with the overgrown grass but we can unfortunately not utilise it, the soil has to be completely dry for it to work effectively.”