Family in tombstone battle
A SOWETO family has been battling for eight months with the Johannesburg council to erect a tombstone at their parents' grave.
Apparently bureaucratic red tape has stopped the unveiling ceremony for Lucas Padi, who was buried at the Doornkop Cemetery in 1966, and his wife, Julia, who was buried in the same grave in 1980.
Their son, Cornelius Padi, who has spent nearly R10,000 on the stones, said the family was upset because the municipality had told them that the grave needs to be verified first before the tombstones could be erected. He said they were told that an exhumation might be done .
Though the grave is not marked after the metal tags fell off many years ago, Padi said his family had been going there regularly to clean it.
"I was 19 years old when my father was buried here," Padi said. " I was old enough to know the landmark features around the grave, like the tree and the big marking stone near it."
Making it even harder for the family is the fact that their parents' names don't appear on the cemetery's register and receipt books.
According to cemetery clerks some of their older books were either damaged or burnt during riots in the apartheid era and the data was not recaptured properly.
When Sowetan visited the cemetery recently a number of metal tags, which are used to mark graves, were missing and some graves lay in bare heaps.
"Exhumation is not a priority to us. It will be too traumatic for the family and how is it possible to get DNA from an old corpse," said Padi.
Johannesburg City Parks spokeswoman Jenny Moodley said they would meet the family at the grave site today to sort out the confusion.
"The family has an affidavit, which says they have identified the family grave site," Moodley said. "It takes two weeks for us to verify the grave and it won't involve exhumation. In the past we've had families fighting over one grave."-firstname.lastname@example.org