Graves across Nelson Mandela Bay ruined by storm

“These are our families and this is causing new pain”

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Over 100 graves at Matanzima Cemetery in Kariega have been flooded since a storm hit the Eastern Cape more than ten days ago. Photos: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Even the dead were not spared the storm that hit the Eastern Cape on 1 June. More than ten days after it struck, over 100 graves remain flooded in Matanzima Cemetery in Kariega. Tombstones and graves in cemeteries across the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, including Matanzima and Bucwa Cemeteries in KwaNobuhle, Gerald Smith near Kwalanga, and Despatch Cemeteries, were wrecked.

Families are distressed by the damage. Tombstones typically cost between R2,500 and R10,000. Many of these are now lying on the ground.

“These are our families and this is causing new pain,” said Thembinkosi Mbalo.

His aunt’s, uncle’s and parents’ graves were damaged at Matanzima Cemetery. He said soil had washed away and the municipality should truck in more ground and also attend to drainage in the graveyard.

Siya Sogcwayi also came to check her family’s graves. “My father, Buyisile Heugh, died in 2008, and my husband, Mzwandile Danster, last year in July. Their graves are badly damaged. The municipality should come and clean this mess.”

GroundUp saw a crew of four municipal workers at the graveyard. One said, “A truck is on its way to come and suck the water.”

By 1pm it had not arrived.

But more and more families were arriving, many taking photos of the flooded graves.

Municipal spokesperson Sithembiso Soyaya said the metro has been declared a disaster area.

“We are currently still assessing all damages caused by the floods and have currently not yet determined whether we will be able to provide assistance as the assessments are still ongoing.”

Thembinkosi Mbalo said his aunt’s, uncle’s and parents’ graves were damaged at Matanzima Cemetery.

TOPICS:  Disaster

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