Municipal cemeteries are vulnerable to vandals and criminals because it is virtually impossible to secure them, a City official has admitted.
Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said it was very difficult stopping crime and vandalism, which often happened after hours.
He was responding to a Vukani article (“Abalelanga kuthula Abafi,” Vukani, April 2) which told how a Langa family had discovered their mother’s grave and others had been vandalised.
A member of the family, Bathande Faku-Klaaste, said they had heard that criminals were taking the grave slabs and reselling them.
The incident prompted Langa councillor Sam John to focus on keeping criminals out of the cemeteries. He also questioned the level of security at the facilities.
The City’s recreation and parks department manages the cemeteries, but, according to Dr Bardroodien, their size and multiple entry points make them very hard to secure.
Crime and vandalism at cemeteries was a countrywide problem, he said.
Perimeter fencing was often stolen faster than it could be replaced, he added.
“New fencing is becoming a commodity for criminals to steal, and by replacing the fencing, the department is enabling more theft, which defeats the purpose of replacing it.”
Patrolling was often ineffective and dangerous for one security guard to manage, and hiring private security was too costly, he said.
“The reality is that we have a social problem which manifests itself as crime and vandalism on easy targets such as cemeteries. Cemeteries are no longer viewed as places of respect towards the deceased but rather a means to an end.
As long as anti-social habits such as drugs and alcohol
abuse perpetuate in society, cemeteries will remain soft targets for resources which can easily be stolen to generate cash,” said Dr Badroodien.