Grave register to be updated
Alida de Beer
Since 2016, records of graves in the active graveyards in George have been kept up to date through the use of GPS coordinates, according to the George Municipality. Communications chief Chantel Edwards-Klose responded to concern aired by a member of the public about the grave register. "Prior to 2016, relatively accurate records were kept by the families, church associations and the municipality. It is the intention of the municipality to update the register to reflect the location of every grave within the next two years," she said. She said members of the public with queries can provide details to the municipality's Meade Street office and officials will review the registers to provide a response.
The concerned citizen, who wanted to remain anonymous, also questioned the management of the George cemetery because of sections where graves are not lying in straight lines. New graves are also appearing in the older section of the graveyard. Edwards-Klose explained that at "at a certain point" either the undertakers or families were allowed to arrange the digging of graves themselves. "Unfortunately, this has led to some of the rows not being uniformly straight. This however no longer takes place."
She said the new graves are appearing among the older ones as a result of certain sites that were reserved and not used immediately. "This practice is not encouraged and it remains the responsibility of the family to clearly and permanently mark the reserved site."
The width between graves must be approximately 450mm and the depth a minimum of 1m. This is subject to the type of soil.
The only active cemeteries are the York Street and Thembalethu graveyards, as well as the graveyards in Uniondale, Haarlem and Touwsranten. The Blanco cemetery has been closed to any further burials. "It is not correct that burials are still taking place there. It must be noted however that there are private cemeteries in use in the Blanco area. All these have been repeatedly fenced and gates are locked. However, vandalism to the gates and theft of the fencing are an ongoing problem."
Theft of funeral flowers remains a problem in cemeteries, but families are allowed to plant flowers, provided the planting does not impact on a neighbouring grave.
The George Municipality is in discussion with Eden District Municipality regarding the identification of land for a new cemetery.
Vandalism and theft of funeral flowers are among the problems plaguing graveyards in George. Photo: Alida de Beer