31 January 2013

Namibia: Cattle Graze Inside Cemetery

Taking advantage of the absence of a caretaker at the cemetery in the Sauyemwa informal settlement in Rundu, cattle, donkeys, goats and other animals have taken over the sacred burial site to graze on the succulent grass, which grows in abundance there.

Since residents of the town do not pay a penny to lay their loved ones to rest in the graveyard, the Rundu Town Council (RTC) says it is in no way obliged to provide a caretaker or to maintain the unguarded, unkempt and shabby burial place.

Animals roam around these hallowed grounds freely and even graze on top of the graves, while cattle herders have absolutely no scruples in tethering their beasts to the nearest tombstone.

Where has the respect gone for the dead, is the question many are asking now in view of this indifference by the living. Aside from the enormous cost of burial it is painful to see the memory of the dead disregarded in such a flagrant manner.

The Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Rundu Town Council, Matthew Naironga, told New Era on Tuesday that it is the responsibility of members of the public to ensure that the gates to the cemetery are secured at all times. Although the cemetery is fenced, the public often leave the gate open after burials.

"This is just carelessness from our people. At the moment we don't do maintenance, because people do not pay for burial sites. Council is however working on ways to determine a fee that will be charged for burial sites within the cemetery," he said.

"The cemetery at Sarusungu has a guard to prevent vandalism because we had reports of vandalism there," said Naironga.

Considering the fact that the town of Rundu is on a growth path, the town council will be expected to ensure that town lands are kept free of farm animals such as pigs, goats, sheep and cattle.

It is not uncommon to find such animals unaccompanied by herders roaming about the five newly formalised settlements of Kasote, Kaisosi, Ndama, Sauyemwa and Kehemu.

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