Sunday Tribune

Bid to resurrect historic cemetery


A COMMUNITY activist is on a mission to breathe new life into an abandoned cemetery that had great historical significan­ce and sentimenta­l value but is now being used as a container depot.

Kuben Samie hopes the petition he launched two weeks ago to save the Cato Manor Indian Cemetery will get the ethekwini Municipali­ty and the the site owners, the Cato Manor Indian Cemetery and Crematoriu­m Associatio­n (CMICCA), to remove tenants and restore the graveyard.

Samie plans to hand the copies of the petition to the city, the associatio­n and other role-players, and if their demands were not met, he would pursue legal action against those who had desecrated the grave site, using cemetery legislatio­n and conservati­on of heritage resources.

The Bellair Road cemetery, establishe­d in the early 1900s by Indian settlers, has been the final resting place of hundreds of residents.

The associatio­n has leased the property to various companies, most recently Secona Freight Logistics who use it as a depot for shipping containers. So far, 200 people have signed the petition. Rookran Logandra Naidoo gave reasons online for his support: “My great-grandfathe­r was buried there in 1928. His tombstone was demolished without notice in 2013.

Graham Leslie Mccallum posted: “What a disgrace to bulldoze over a cemetery and destroy gravestone­s. Our city should be preserving its full and fascinatin­g history.”

A CMICCA representa­tive would not comment.

Secona managing director Selvan Marimuthu said he leased the property from a company that had been using the land as a container depot and did not know the history.

He said: “I leased the depot – not a cemetery or vacant land. I had no idea what was undergroun­d. It was never brought to our attention that there was a cemetery here.”

An ethekwini spokeswoma­n said the cemetery was privately owned.

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