Durban municipality digs up old graves to recycle it – It could be your loved ones grave next?

A Durban North man is left wondering if his family grave in Glenwood will last.

When Stephan Bruwer’s family decided to install a new granite tombstone on the grave in Stellawood Cemetery, he visited the grave two weeks ago and was astonished to find eThekwini Municipality employees digging up an old grave a few spaces away from where his parents were buried.

The remains taken from the grave were thrown into a container where they were burnt, said Bruwer.

Stephan Bruwer was shocked to discover city workers recycling a grave near his family’s plot.

His sister and uncle were also buried in the same grave in the period of 10 years since the family had taken a lease with the municipality.

“I brought a granite tombstone two weeks ago to renovate the family plot, but I still feel uneasy with what I witnessed that Saturday morning.

“Four of my family members are lying in that grave. The family paid R3 000 for the burial plot 10 years ago,” Bruwer said yesterday.

That Saturday he went to the office at the entrance to the cemetery to begin the formalities of installing the new tombstone, but was told that his family grave would go up for “adoption”, that is recycling, in August.

“We would not have known about the August deadline had we not decided to place a new tombstone on that grave. It was shocking enough to witness those people digging another old grave, hence I can’t even explain my fear for my own family grave,” he said.

The Bruwers paid R1 050 to keep their grave for the next 10 years.
However, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, eThekwini’s head of Parks, Recreation and Culture, said should the 10-year-period lapse, the city had no obligation to inform families if the graves they had leased in the past 10 years would be recycled.

He said payment for the leasing of plots differed from cemetery to cemetery and that part of that payment went to servicing the cemeteries, with graves being recycled every 10 years if no one came forward to renew the lease.
“We send notices to families six months before the expiry of the lease, and that’s it for us.

“If families do not follow processes to inform us of their intention to keep the grave for another term, we are within our right to recycle that grave,” Ngcobo said.

“As for this particular case, people with concerns should approach the municipality,” he said.

Ngcobo also said health and safety measures were always in place when grave sites were recycled. He did not respond to Bruwer’s assertion that remains removed from graves to be recycled were being burnt in a container at the graveyard.

Logan Chetty, chairperson of the KZN Funeral Directors Association, said the only way to avoid “frustration” is for people to cremate.

Source: Daily News


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