‘We need more graves than houses’

Bulawayo desperately needs land for cemeteries more than it does for housing units, a Councillor told a full council meeting, Wednesday.

Speaking at the city’s full council meeting on Wednesday, Ward 1 Councillor Mlandu Ncube said the city is faced with a serious shortage for graves, with most of the cemeteries in the city full.

“We no longer have burial space. We need more graves than houses. As we speak Athlone cemetery is now full but it has been functional for less than six months,” he said.

Cllr Ncube was responding to a proposal that had been received from A.P. Glendinning (Pvt) Ltd to offer Council the Umvutcha Park Cemetery that they own in exchange for unserviced high-density residential stands of similar value.

Town Lands and Planning Committee chairperson Cllr Rodney Jele responded saying it was premature to debate as the two parties are yet to negotiate on the offer.

Umvutcha cemetery sits on a property measuring 20.57 hectares in area, being the remaining extent of hundred acre Lot John Makunga, Sauerstown, Bulawayo.

The cemetery, which is fully functional with toilets and a chapel, has a capacity of 45 000 graves.

According to the latest council minutes, in an interdepartmental committee meeting, it was agreed that the proposal was a welcome development as it came at a time when Council was facing challenges in terms of burial space.

The health services department pointed out that a cemetery with a capacity of 45000 graves would serve the city for a period of over 10 years.

“The fact that the site was already developed makes it readily available for use,” read the minutes.

In January, the local authority had a total of 414 burials in its cemeteries while ten cremations were carried out.

Bulawayo currently has seven cemeteries namely Athlone Avenue, Athlone Extension, Luveve 3, Luveve Extension, West Park and Lady Stanley and Hyde Park (second interment) and handles about 300 to 400 burials per month.

While the city is faced with a serious shortage of burial space, there is also a housing challenge with the city`s housing list currently at over 120 000 with the city only managing to service about 20 000 housing stands in the last 15 years despite a huge demand for housing.

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