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Grave digging syndicate sells graves for $20

by Vusumuzi Dube
20 Sep 2015 at 10:18hrs | Views
UNSCRUPULOUS grave diggers at West Park Cemetery in Bulawayo are allegedly selling graves to desperate bereaved families outside the stipulated council channels and below the set rates. The grave diggers, according to sources, run a syndicate which is selling graves for as little as $20 and market their business by promising desperate families to avoid the normal bureaucratic channels of accessing burial space through council.

Normal prices for graves at the city's cemeteries range from $47 to $92. BCC senior public relations officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu acknowledged that there was such a syndicate, revealing that the council's audit department was investigating the matter with the hope of bringing those who are part of the syndicate to book.

"Further to the response we sent earlier, we have since established with our audit section that there are such allegations, we are conducting investigations in that regard," said Mrs Mpofu.

Council sources privy to the investigations revealed that the syndicate was exposed when concerned members of the public blew the whistle on the grave diggers.

"There are fears that this could have been going on for a long period, which is why the audit section has been tasked with firstly tallying the number of graves currently available on the ground and those that are appearing on our books so that we get the exact figure involved.

"As you might know, the local authority recently reported that burial space at West Park is fast running out. There is now a possibility that the situation is worse than we envisaged because we don't know how many of these graves were sold by this syndicate," said the council source.

Although Mrs Mpofu refused to furnish more details regarding the investigations, she provided the normal costs for graves in the city and the procedures meant to be followed when seeking burial space.

"During the week burial space for a standard grave costs $47 while a casket will cost mourners $57, on Saturday a standard grave costs $50 and a casket $73 while on Sundays the standard grave will cost mourners $59 and a casket costs $92.

"The procedure to get a grave is that initially the bereaved obtains a burial order, then approach either a funeral parlour of their choice to book a grave for them or they go directly to their cemetery of choice and make the booking themselves on production of a burial order, without paying," said Mrs Mpofu.

She said after this the bereaved family proceeds to the Tower Block where they are issued with a proforma invoice to pay for the grave at the Revenue Hall.

"The proforma invoice indicates the vote number for the cemetery, the account number, name of payer, name of deceased, amount to be paid and the date, the bereaved takes the receipt back to the Tower Block where the information is entered in the CT Form (30) Book and two copies of this entry together with the burial order are then given to the bereaved or their representatives to present to the cemetery supervisor for the actual burial.

"If any of our residents see themselves not going through this process or rather if they did not go through this process they should know that they went through with something very illegal and we might bring them to book, people should watch out for such unscrupulous individuals," said Mrs Mpofu.

Early this year the local authority revealed that it was left with three months burial space, a situation that saw it identifying a new burial site in Pumula South.

The city has seven cemetery sites, namely, Old Luveve, Luveve Extension, Luveve 3, Hyde Park, West Park, Lady Stanley and Athlone Avenue, with a death rate of about 400 people per month.

The piece of land where the new cemetery will be measures 52 754 hectares with a capacity to accommodate between 107 350 and 114 270 graves after allowing for foot paths and driveways.

Source - sundaynews