BCC suspends burials at Athlone after excavator breaks down

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has suspended burials at Athlone cemetery after the excavator used digging graves broke down, sources have said.

Athlone cemetery is situated just after Northend Suburb in the east of Bulawayo, from the city centre.

Sources within the city council said due to the malfunction of the machine, burials would be conducted at Luveve cemetery.

Apparently, the excavator broke down as a result of numerous Covid-19 related burials that overwhelmed the city’s two cemeteries.

The excavator in use during the exhumation of a body at Athlone cemetery last week

Sources alleged scores of people were buried a day.

“Since Thursday, the city council has not been burying at Athlone cemetery because the grave digging machine has broken down,” said a source.

“All burials are now being conducted at Luveve cemetery.”

When contacted for comment, Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni told CITE that he had not been briefed about the matter.

“I have not been briefed about this since it’s a Sunday,” he said. “I will look into it.”

Some bereaved families who had already booked burial space at Athlone cemetery bemoaned this development and said they felt short-changed by the local authority as a grave at Luveve is cheaper than at Athlone.

A grave booking at Athlone cost $US53 while space at Luveve cemetery is $US43.

“We had booked graves at Athlone for relatives sometime before,” one source said.

“When we wanted to bury one of our relatives there, we were informed there were no ready graves because the grave digging machine broke down.  That is unfair and the council should have stand-by grave digging machines so as to avoid inconveniencing its clients.”

According to the latest council report, Bulawayo’s cemeteries were now overwhelmed by burials from neighbouring South Africa and Botswana.

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