Buried in rubbish

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Residents demand graveyard be restored

DUMPING GROUND: The old Breidbach cemetery is in a sorry state with rubbish strewn everywhere, overgrown grass, damaged tombstones and lack of fencing, allowing stray animals to roam around Picture: DESMOND COETZEE

RESIDENTS living close to the old Breidbach graveyard are up in arms with authorities about the sorry state of the cemetery and are demanding that it be properly maintained.

They claim the pathetic state of the cemetery is purely due to a lack of proper maintenance by Buffalo City Metro (BCM).

They are also concerned about their safety when visiting the cemetery and possible health risks due to its filthy state.

In a desperate effort to voice their concerns, the residents approached the Sanco interim leadership to fight the battle on their behalf.

Sanco organiser Stacey Gosling said after listening to the concerns of the community, Sanco representatives visited the cemetery and were shocked at what they discovered.

“After numerous calls from the community, we visited the site, which brought some sadness to some of us.

“We decided to take the bull by the horns and arranged for a meeting with a BCM official, who preferred to remain anonymous,” Gosling said.

According to Gosling, the graveyard is overgrown with long grass and thorn bushes and the tombstones of many graves have been damaged by stray animals that roam the area.

 

“There is no fencing, only a concrete wall facing the road opposite the residents, which poses as a safety risk as criminals hide behind it,” Gosling said.

“Rubbish is strewn all over and it has become a dump site, which attracts rats, snakes and insects.”

Gosling said residents in the area wanted the wall removed and replaced with a fence and for the cemetery be maintained.

This would include basic services such as cutting the grass and keeping it clean.

The Sanco delegation who accompanied Gosling to the meeting with the BCM official included Desmond Allison, Jenna Ohlson and Gabriel Fourie.

At the meeting, the BCM official said: “First and foremost I appreciate and acknowledge your invitation to this meeting but I would like to emphasise that we as officials are not allowed to meet with the community directly.

“You have elected the ward councillor yourselves and it would be proper if he or she was also present here, but to some of the concerns I can respond.

He added: “The new cemetery in Acorn Valley was recently upgraded after the service provider did maintenance, which started in August, and we can go there any time as I am happy about the state it is in now.

“The old cemetery that you are talking about I am worried about.”

He blamed community members for not taking ownership of it and parents for not disciplining their children to not mess it up.

“… we did clean up there once [but it is back to how it was],” he said.

He also mentioned that residents dumped their refuse there but were now putting the blame squarely on BCM’s shoulders.

“I’ve noted your concerns regarding the wall and would like to advise you to take the matter to the IDP as we have 14 operational cemeteries within the area with a limited budget,” he said.

He assured the delegation that he would refer the matter to his upper structure and liaise through their ward councillor.

BCM had not commented at the time of going to print.

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