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Athlone West cemetery closed

...council commissions Umvutcha

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has with immediate effect closed Athlone West Cemetery due as it has run out of burial space.

The local authority said burials at the cemetery started in 2018 with a possible 8 000 graves projected for four years, which has since been exhausted.

In a recently released advertisement, Bulawayo Town Clerk, Christopher Dube, said as a result of increased demand for burial space, the BCC was closing Athlone and commissioning Umvutcha Cemetery.

“The city of Bulawayo would like to inform the public and valuable stakeholders that burial space at Athlone West Cemetery has been exhausted,” he said.

“In view of the aforementioned, the cemetery will be decommissioned with effect from Friday, January 7, 2022, with the subsequent commissioning of Umvutcha Cemetery. No more regular burials will be conducted at Athlone West Cemetery.”

Availability of space at cemeteries is a looming problem in Bulawayo, were coupled with a growing urban population, the city’s cemeteries are now largely full.

The town clerk noted that only second interments and burials in reserved graves will take place at Athlone.

“The city looks forward to continued cordial relations during this transition period and beyond,” he said.

BCC Corporate Communications Manager, Nesisa Mpofu, said Umvutcha cemetery has a lifespan of 10 years.

“The projected number of graves at Umvutcha is 45 000 and these should last approximately 10 years barring any unforeseen circumstances like bed rock, which has been a challenge at Athlone West,” she said.

The local authority has been constantly urging residents to embrace cremation, a method of final disposition of a dead body through burning, as an alternative to burial since the city is running out of space.

As per last year’s figures, grave booking at Athlone was US$53 while burial space at Luveve cemetery cost US$43 with cremation during the week charged at U$34 and on weekends US$39.

In a month, Bulawayo reportedly cremated about 20 people, which is far less than the number of people who are buried per day.

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