It has been indicated that residents would reclaim the land and celebrate Christmas at the cemetery if no burials had started taking place by that date.
WHILE the Phutanang Cemetery has been cleared of illegal shacks, no burials have taken place there since the area was cleared and the land occupants were relocated to Roodepan.
This is despite the Sol Plaatje Municipality instructing that all burials must take place at Phutanang Cemetery from August 26 as all the other cemeteries are full.
According to the eviction notice all occupants had to vacate the cemetery by September 29.
Community leader, Nelson Molale, yesterday indicated that residents would reclaim the land and celebrate Christmas at the cemetery if no burials had started taking place by that date.
“We are used to staying there, it has become our home. The land is perfect for residential purposes. Only about 112 people out of a total of 231, agreed to relocate about a month ago. The alternative land that was provided was surveyed but there are no services.
“The other residents returned to their backyards because Roodepan (where the alternative land is) is out of the way and is situated far away from the schools. The crime rate is high and people do not feel safe. It is obvious that there was no urgency because since we moved out of the area, not one burial has taken place there.”
He added that about 18 people were still waiting for the municipality to return their zincs and building materials after their shacks were demolished at the cemetery.
“We have opposed the eviction order and are waiting for the next court date.”
The Northern Cape Funeral Association is refusing to conduct funerals at the Phutanang Cemetery, demanding that it be secured with fences as it was prone to vandalism.
“Toilets must be set up and an exit point must be established on the other side of the graveyard to ease traffic congestion.
“While holes have been dug for the graves, no other development has taken place there. The reason provided was that the municipality does not have money.”
The association said meetings that were supposed to be held with municipal officials never materialised.
“The last meeting should have been held two weeks ago but was cancelled again. We know that the December holidays are approaching, but services and burials have to continue, regardless. ”
It stated that local businesses were prepared to enter into partnership with the municipality to assist in putting up the necessary infrastructure.
“There should be a budget allocated for this very purpose . . . where are the funds?
“The municipality generates revenue of between R1 930 and R2 416 per grave from cemeteries while there are about 30 burials taking place every day in the city.
“This amounts to about R244 000 per month for burials. You also pay an extra fee for erecting tombstones and for funerals over weekends.”
Spokesperson for the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Thoko Riet, said the municipality would commence with burials at the Phutanang Cemetery from next weekend.
“A surveyor was appointed on Wednesday to align the soil.”
She added that renovations to the office, construction of the fencing and cleaning of the graveyard was part of an “ongoing project”.
“No budget was allocated for renovation purposes, but work will continue where possible.”
She stated that 184 people were assisted with transport to relocate from the Phutanang Cemetery to Roodepan, Ivory Park and Lethabo Park after the court granted an eviction order.
“All those that were moved were provided with land and standpipes so they can have access to water. Other services will be installed in due course. It this has been communicated to residents.”
Riet indicated that they had an influx of 30 occupants per day erecting their shacks in the area.
She pointed out that the municipality was currently not losing out on any income generated from burials as there was still space available at the West End Cemetery.
“The West End Cemetery still has space for the next two months but the Galeshewe, Roodepan, Ramatshela and Greenpoint cemeteries are all full. We therefore will have to move burials to the Phuthanang Cemetery as soon as possible.”
Riet stated that numerous meetings were held with the Northern Cape Funeral Directors’ Association’s representatives.
“The last meeting that took place on November 6 was chaired by the executive mayor with officials from economic development and management. A task team was established to address the concerns raised and to report back to the mayor.
“A follow-up meeting with the representatives will take place as soon as municipal officials are available. It should furthermore be noted that the revenue collected by cemeteries is low and cannot cover the costs of running the cemeteries.”
ABC, Greenpoint, Ramatshela, Roodepan cemeteries:
New grave standard coffin: R1 930
Re-open standard coffin: R1 720
New grave casket coffin: R2 750
Re-open casket coffin: R1 930
West End cemetery:
New Grave standard coffin: R2 416.50
Re-open standard coffin: R1 846.50
New grave casket coffin: R 2 986.50
Re-open casket coffin: R2 036.50