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Hi-tech cameras for cemeteries - Rogue mourners under the spotlight

THE eThekwini metropolitan municipality has started installing closed-circuit security cameras at cemeteries to prevent mourners from firing firearms, exposing their bodies, spinning vehicles and destroying and stealing tombstones.

This was after mourners complained of gunfire salutes and other illegal activities at the cemetery during funeral proceedings and at night.

Themba Ngcobo, eThekwini municipality's head of parks and cemeteries, said the cameras are very sophisticated, and show crystal- clear pictures when one zooms into a particular spot, even at night.

"The system has a programme that enables it to detect any physical movement that happens within the cemetery," he said.

"It can be set to ring off an alarm to alert the operator when movement happens in a demarcated area."

Ngcobo said the city would extend the programme to other cemeteries across the municipality.

"We embarked on this programme after we could not control many unsavoury incidents at our cemeteries.

"People are firing guns, some skimpily dressed women are exposing their private parts at grave sites and drink alcohol. Some people even spin vehicles inside cemeteries as a sendoff to their gang-belonging loved ones," he said.

Ngcobo said this exposed the lives of other mourners to risk, and "people living near cemeteries could be injured or even be killed by stray bullets".

"Our bylaws are very clear and stipulate how funerals should be conducted.

"Now with these cameras we can work with the police to disarm people before they go to our cemeteries, and if it is difficult we can later isolate culprits by holding roadblocks to disarm and arrest them."

He said the municipality had invested a lot of money developing and building infrastructure for the benefit of the community.

"When vandalism and criminal activities take place, this hampers the speed of service delivery and negatively affects other projects aimed at bettering the lives of the people of eThekwini."

Many have welcomed the installation of the cameras.

Tokollo Khofu, a BCom student at Durban's Oval College, said it would help bring back dignity to funerals.

"I have heard of many incidents where mourners had to scatter or dive for cover after some rascals decided to fire shots in cemeteries. It is disgusting," Khofu said.

Nonhlanhla Mfeka, a Durban mother of two, said she also welcomed the move.

"I don't know whether this move will bring back dignity to funerals. We have heard of people who destroy tombstones and women who expose themselves in the cemeteries. I think these people should be arrested."

Patrick Shozi, a hawker outside Durban's Berea Cemetery, said the move will "make people feel safe".


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