EL public demand answers on neglect
THE East London public are outraged and are demanding answers from Buffalo City Metro (BCM) as to why the city’s cemeteries are in the state they’re in.
Many of the city’s cemeteries are of serious concern to residents who say they can’t see loved ones’ graves because of the unkempt state, with overgrown and uncut grass and weeds.
On the Crime Spotter Buffalo City page on Facebook last week, BCM residents ranted at the state of the resting places, mentioning in particular the state of the Buffalo Flats Cemetery.
One of the people who commented on the post also mentioned Cambridge Cemetery.
The GO! decided to take a first-hand look at the situation and visited both cemeteries, as well as the Haven Hills Cemetery last week to confirm complaints. At all of the graveyards it was difficult to see some of the graves as it seemed as if the grass has not been cut in a very long time.
Esme Nuller, 70, has been visiting her husband’s grave once a month for the past three years. She complained it was getting difficult to get to the grave as she feared that she might slip and fall.
“His grave is one of the last lot [towards the bottom of a slope], so I can’t go down there. I went there at the beginning of this month and it is terrible and devastating.
“Graveyards are meant for the late to rest in peace. How can they rest in that state? I have reported this to BCM, but no one has done anything. Other families are also complaining about this. BCM also said you can’t get a garden service because it is municipal land. What are we supposed to do then?” Nuller asked.
East London-born Anthony Marais asked a friend to put flowers on his mother’s grave but the now-Cape Town resident was appalled by the photos his friend sent him.
After posting the photos on Facebook, he said: “I asked someone to put flowers on my mother’s grave on Mother’s Day and these pics were sent to me of the Buffalo Flats Cemetery. I was shocked when I saw this. Can someone please tell me why the cemetery is in such a bad state? One can’t even see the graves.”
One of the comments to this was: “East Cemetery is just as bad and it’s scary to go there as there’s always someone coming out of the bushes. You’ve got to keep looking around for safety over your shoulders.”
In the past, there have even been reports of people being mugged at the city’s cemeteries, with robbers hiding in the overgrown grass and bushes.
BCM spokesman Sibusiso Cindi said a turnaround strategy to address the issues that affect BCM cemeteries had been adopted. Within this strategy, the city adopted the Wednesday of each week to pull all its resources and deal with one cemetery at a time.
“This is evident if one visits the East Cemetery [opposite Buffalo Park Cricket Stadium] and sees the work that is currently being undertaken. The reason why Wednesdays has been set aside, is to address backlogs throughout the city,” Cindi said.
Theressa Klaasen wrote: “Buffalo Flats Cemetery looks like a bush and not a cemetery. I am so disgusted with the way the graveyard looks. I was there yesterday and just when I wanted to take a picture of the guys laying on the grass, they jumped up and walked the other way.”
Cindi also mentioned that some of the key challenges the city was experiencing were shortages of equipment, staff and budgetary constraints. However, Buffalo Flats Cemetery is part of the turnaround strategy the city has adopted.
Cindi said: “The intention is that all of the cemeteries must be brought up to standard or an acceptable level and to ensure that security is provided.”