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Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Council must repair damaged graves in the Despatch Cemetery

It is disappointing that in its efforts to increase safety and security at the Metro's cemeteries, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Council (NMBM) damaged several graves in the Despatch Cemetery while erecting a fence.

The NMBM erected a 4km-long fence costing R6 million around the Cemetery to try and prevent the vandalism of graves and to make the Cemetery safer for funeralgoers and visitors, but in the process, the NMBM itself damaged some of the graves.

After receiving numerous complaints from the community, the FF Plus paid an oversight visit to the Despatch Cemetery to investigate allegations that municipal workers flattened several graves and damaged gravestones with a bulldozer.

During the oversight visit, the party came upon residents walking among the graves, searching for the final resting places of their loved ones. Other residents were trying to repair the graves themselves and to the one side was a heap of flowers and wreaths.

Some of the graves are barely visible under the mounds of soil and there are clear signs that many graves had been driven over.

This is absolutely unacceptable; the dignity of residents and their deceased family members must be respected and the actions of the NMBM officials border on the violating of graves.

In terms of the South African National Heritage Resources Act, the violation of graves and even removing flower arrangements, planted trees, iron fencing or decorative gates constitute a crime.

The FF Plus demands that the Metro must take action against the relevant officials and department heads and that the NMBM must use some of the R40 million, earmarked for fencing its cemeteries, to repair the damaged graves.

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