Family forced to bury son in their backyard

Desia Kekae and her husband Petros at the grave of their son at Dikgokgopeng village, Limpopo./PETER RAMOTHWALA
Desia Kekae and her husband Petros at the grave of their son at Dikgokgopeng village, Limpopo./PETER RAMOTHWALA

A family was forced to bury its relative in the backyard after a group of angry community members demanded it pays a R1,000 fine before it could be allowed to use a community cemetery.

Lesiba Kekae, 60, died three weeks ago and was buried on Saturday in his family's backyard at Dikgokgopeng outside Mokopane in Limpopo.

Lesiba's father Petros Kekae, 90, told Sowetan his problems began a few years ago when he refused to contribute the annual R100 fee each family has to pay to a grave diggers fraternity commonly known as diphiri (hyenas).

"On Friday afternoon, I went to the graveyard with some of my family members to dig a grave for Lesiba, which we did. Then around midnight the group went to the cemetery and filled the grave," Kekae senior said.

He said after he heard what had happened he gathered a group of family members to dig another grave but they were threatened by diphiri.

"They found us digging the second grave and told us they will kill us and burn the hearse if we continue with the burial in the graveyard. I told my family members to stop because I didn't want to put their lives at risk."

Kekae described the burial of his son in the backyard as a taboo: "We have never buried any of my family members in our backyard, it's taboo; he was supposed to be buried with his relatives. His grave here at home will always be a reminder that my community turned its back on me."

Local headman Dan Rakomako refused to comment, while House of Traditional Leaders chairperson in Limpopo Chief Malesela Dikgale said the village was divided into two groups and none of them wants to reach a compromise. Lesiba's mother Desia Kekae, 85, said she will never forgive those who forced her to bury her son inside the yard.

Local resident Douglas Manganyi, 45, said they reported the matter to the police but nothing was done. "Police came and said the matter was not for them to handle. As we speak, the graveyard gate is locked and whoever wanted to access the cemetery must pay R50 first. What kind of nonsense is this," Manganyi asked.

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