Cemetery woes for residents
DIPALESENG local municipality in Balfour, Mpumalanga, has over the years failed to secure land and establish a cemetery for the Grootvlei area, forcing its residents to sneak into demarcated land to conduct burials.
The community of about 15000 people has no place to bury their dead.
Since May, when the new owners - on whose land Grootvlei residents buried their loved ones - erected a fence around the makeshift cemetery, the community has been forcing its way in to bury the dead. Residents say they have on several occasions cut the fence to gain entry to the land.
In its 2009-10 and 2010-11 projects outline, the municipality said it would spend more than R2.7-million for the establishment of a cemetery in Grootvlei Extension 1.
In the document, which Sowetan has seen, the municipality states: "The the appointment of [a] contractor is in progress."
The land which the community uses for burials is privately owned and has been sold to new owners. The previous land owners, New Century Homes, did not respond to Sowetan's inquiry sent last week.
Previously a mining area, Grootvlei has an informal settlement which continues to mushroom. RDP houses are being built in the area.
Municipal spokeswoman Phindile Sidu said: "The area under consideration [to establish a cemetery] was a mine village comprising only 76 housing units, with no intention to either expand or establish a township."
She urged Grootvlei residents to use the Balfour cemetery while the process was still ongoing.
Resident and SACP ward 5 chairman Sammy Mapohosha said: "What has the municipality been doing with money? The people here are poor and the unemployment rate is high. People struggled to hire a bus that would transport mourners to the cemetery .
"Where will they get money to hire buses to transport people to the Balfour cemetery, which is more than 30km from Grootvlei?" he said.
Thandi Mokoena, whose husband was buried at the cemetery in 2003, said she feared the graves would be flattened.
She said the municipality had identified land near Tokoloho primary and Tshepeha secondary schools as a cemetery site.
Elias Malinga, whose son and daughter-in-law were buried at the makeshift cemetery, said: "The area (near the schools) is a wetland. The graves will sink."
Residents said they would fight to prevent the municipality from establishing a cemetery near the schools.
But Sidu said: "Finalising the deed of sale is at an advanced stage." - firstname.lastname@example.org