It has been noted that men are stealing granite from cemeteries in Tongaat, north of Durban, and reselling them as granite for kitchen tops.
The act has been condemned by MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in KwaZulu-Natal, Nomusa Dube-Ncube who urged police to arrest those caught desecrating graves.
“We are really disturbed by these reports about people who do not respect grave sites and who are desecrating them by stealing tombstones placed there by relatives to remember their loved one,” she said.
Dube-Ncube said tampering with grave sites is a serious offence that carried a hefty fine and even a prison sentence.
She said the KZN Cemeteries and Crematoria Act requires one to seek permission from the MEC for Local Government to formally exhume a grave site.
The MEC added that her department is the custodian of grave sites in the province and should be consulted if there is a need to formally exhume a grave site.
“The reports we have received indicate that the stolen tombstones are used to make granite kitchen tops which are then re-sold to unsuspecting communities. We urge our communities to ensure that they know the origins of the material they purchase, especially granite,” she said.
The MEC urged municipalities to ensure that adequate security measures are put in place to prevent such incidents from reoccurring.