BY SILAS NKALA
GRAVE diggers at Bulawayo cemeteries are overwhelmed and the council has proposed that mourners do the back-filling of the graves while it recruits more staff.
According to the latest council minutes, health services director Edwin Sibanda also revealed that Athlone cemetery was fast filling up, while Luveve and Umvutcha still had each a lifespan of 10 years.
The minutes also revealed that bodies repatriated from South Africa were topping the list of people recently buried in the city, while in July alone, the cemeteries had 269 bodies of people who died due to COVID-19.
“The committee considered the matter and councillor Joyce Ndlovu sought clarification on the number of mourners allowed per burial in the city’s cemeteries,” part of the minutes read.
“In view of recent relaxation on COVID-19 regulations, Joyce Ndlovu noted that cemetery staff was overwhelmed by grave back-filling and more mourners were allowed.
“Maybe consideration could be given to allowing the mourners to do the back-filling.”
The minutes further read: “Athlone West Cemetery recorded burials from outside the city as follows: South Africa 15, Botswana 1, Plumtree 1, Bubi 2, Matopo 1, Gweru 1, Marondera 1 and Umguza 2. Luveve Cemetery recorded burials from outside the city as follows: South Africa 9 and Umguza 2.
“Two hundred and sixty nine COVID-19 related deaths that occurred in the city were buried at our cemeteries during the month of July 2021. All the burials were supervised.”
The council minutes also stated that a total of 20 cremations — seven males and 13 females — were carried out during the month.
“Councillor Felix Mhaka enquired if the council had enough burial space for the future. The chairperson councillor Sinikiwe Mutanda supported the council to continue with 30 mourners per burial as COVID-19 was still a reality and needed to be controlled.”
In response, town clerk Christopher Dube advised that human capital development had undertaken a work study and the number of cemetery staff would be
“A detailed report would be submitted accordingly. It was prudent for the council to continue with 30 mourners per burial at the city’s cemeteries so as to ease congestion. Currently, funerals were considered as super spreaders for COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the city was operating three cemeteries, namely Athlone extension, Luveve and Umvutcha,” reads the minutes.
“Athlone was fast filling up. However, the other two had enough burial space that could last the city 10 years each. Pumula South and Marvel cemeteries had also been gazetted. Marvel Cemetery was awaiting the construction of a railway level crossing bridge.”