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Bulawayo Council urges cremation or rural home burials

by Staff reporter
07 Jul 2023 at 07:53hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) which is fast running out of burial space is calling on residents to either cremate or bury their loved ones at their rural homes.

The call also comes amid revelations that Umvutsha Cemetery which was commissioned in 2022 and with an estimated 45 000-grave capacity deemed to ease a shortage of burial space now had a capacity of up to three years.

The city has been battling burial space shortage following the decommissioning of West Park, Luveve, Athlone and Hyde Park cemeteries.

The passionate plea by the local authority to the residents to bury their loved ones at their rural homes comes as the local authority is facing stiff resistance from residents who are maintaining that burning the body of a loved one is against cultural beliefs.

Cremation is the method of final disposition of a dead body through burning and is an alternative to burial.

The latest council report shows that the City Fathers, troubled over the lack of burial space, suggested that those who can't cremate their loved ones should bury them at their rural homes.

The report also shows that as of last month the city recorded a total of nine cremations, five males and four females, an indication that there was a low uptake of this method of final disposition of a dead body among the residents.

"Councillor Rodney D Jele (Ward 22) inquired about Pumula South Cemetery which had long been gazetted. He wanted to know when the council would start utilising this cemetery. Umvutsha Cemetery was very far from some of the residents from high density areas.

"Councillor Shadreck Sibanda (Ward 8) concurred. He was also concerned about Lady Stanley Cemetery which was fast filling up. Lady Stanley was used by residents to bury dignified residents who were on record for outstanding works in the community.

In his view it was time for the council to establish another cemetery for such purposes," the report reads in part.

In response the Deputy Mayor Clr Mlandu Ncube, confirmed that Pumula South Cemetery had been gazetted.

"The area was rocky. Proposals had been made to utilise the cemetery to bury children under the age of 12 years. More burial space would be provided. Residents were being encouraged to minimise burials in urban areas in order to conserve land which was now a scarce resource.

"Residents were being encouraged to consider cremation and burials in rural areas. A new cemetery for the dignified residents with outstanding works in the city would be established," further reads the report.

The Deputy Mayor also called on residents to honour some of the members of the society with outstanding works while they were still alive.

The Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni, requested for the submission of a detailed report on issues raised on cemeteries saying it was the role of the local authority to do forward planning.

Ward 17 Clr Sikhululekile Moyo sought clarification on the gazetted Marvel Cemetery while suggesting that residents should be notified about the grave production costs at Pumula South Cemetery.

The acting Town Clerk also sought clarity on the life span of Umvutsha Cemetery.

In response the Director of Health Services Dr Edwin Sibanda explained that engagements were being done with National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to provide a rail level crossing at Marvel Cemetery.

"The only safe access to the cemetery was through crossing the railway line. Pumula South Cemetery's proposal for the under 12s had been authorised.

"However, this would not hinder residents who wanted to bury adults as long as they had the capacity to produce a grave. "Pumula South Cemetery was situated on rocky ground. The type of soil was very hard.

It was not prudent for the council to hire equipment as this could increase the grave production costs.

"At the present moment, the city has no capacity to operate more than two cemeteries because of staff shortages and other operational costs. Umvutsha Cemetery had a capacity of lasting up to three years," said Dr Sibanda.

Source - B-Metro