Cemetery goes under the hammer as recession bites

SOUTH Africa's auction houses have sold Khoi fish collections, knife sets and now a privately owned cemetery, as the recession takes a firm grip of scores of cash-strapped homeowners, entrepreneurs and private trusts.

The recession has seen thousands of South Africans unable to service their bills.

Auctioneers have revealed that "almost everything" is being auctioned off.

Aucor, one of the country's biggest auction houses, last week attracted scores of interested buyers and even curious onlookers to the sale of a privately owned cemetery in Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg.

Aucor spokesperson Marco Gaspar said the trustees of Westhaven Private Cemetery rejected the final R14million bid.

"The trustees were looking for R15million to cover their costs," he said, adding that Aucor was currently negotiating with three interested buyers.

Gaspar said one of the interested buyers was a municipality that was running out of burial space.

The property, which has 35000 allocated burial sites, also boasts rights for a crematorium.

"At this stage only two people have been buried in the cemetery," Gaspar said.

Alliance group chief executive Rael Levitt said some of the most unusual goods auctioned by his company included three Boeing 737-300s, privately owned gym equipment worth more than R2million, and a bankrupt horse stud farm in Wellington, near Cape Town, that was snapped up forR18million.