Fam­ily out­raged as coun­cil forces burial at an­other ceme­tery

The Sunday Independent - - News - ROLAND MPOFU

THE fam­ily of late Soweto cen­te­nar­ian Mama Madge Male­shane Gu­gushe are up in arms and are ask­ing for a re­fund from City Parks af­ter they were un­able to bury her in Croe­sus (New­clare) Ceme­tery in Bos­mont, where she had booked a burial site and had paid for it for al­most three decades.

In­stead, Gu­gushe was buried at West­park Ceme­tery, also in Joburg.

Ac­cord­ing to fam­ily spokesper­son Cheche Selepe, Mama Madge had booked a burial site at Croe­sus in 1990, near her sis­ter and her brother-in-law, but this never hap­pened be­cause the fam­ily was told the site was un­suit­able for a grave two days be­fore her burial.

“She made all the book­ing ar­range­ments in time with the mu­nic­i­pal de­part­ment re­spon­si­ble for the grave­yards.

“For 28 years, 20 of which she was home-bound with ill­ness, she be­lieved that one day she, too, would be laid to eter­nal rest with the rest of her fam­ily and rel­a­tives.

“Her 28-year dream was shat­tered just two days be­fore her burial. Her fam­ily and friends were told that the burial site she had booked was un­suit­able.

“Ap­par­ently, there is a boul­der un­der­neath the site and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity can­not un­earth it, we were told.

“We’ve since filed a few ques­tions to the au­thor­i­ties with re­gard to this abrupt switch of burial sites in or­der to pre­vent such from hap­pen­ing again,” said Selepe.

In a heated e-mail (seen by The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent) sent to the City Parks mar­ket­ing man­ager Jenny Mood­ley on March 18, Selepe wanted to know why it took two days – and on the eve of her burial – for the of­fi­cials to dis­cover that it was not fea­si­ble for her to be buried at her cho­sen site.

“Since that space was booked as far back as 1990 and pre­sum­ably at a price, what mech­a­nisms are there to re­fund such costs with in­ter­est?

“If it’s dis­cov­ered that there is a boul­der un­der­neath the sur­face, is the mu­nic­i­pal­ity so ill-equipped to re­move that ob­sta­cle (boul­der)?

“From a con­sumer rights’ per­spec­tive, what form of re­course, if any, do the fam­ily and com­mu­ni­ties have on such mat­ters?

“Other than of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive burial site else­where, were of­fi­cials un­able to lo­cate any al­ter­na­tive site within the same ceme­tery of the de­ceased’s choice,” read part of the e-mail. Selepe said he has not re­ceived a re­sponse to his e-mail yet.

Mama Madge, as she was af­fec­tion­ately known, died on In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day, March 8, at her home in Dube at the age of 101.

She had been a nurse and a ma­tron at Chris Hani Barag­wanath Hos­pi­tal for many years be­fore her re­tire­ment. She leaves her hus­band, for­mer ed­u­ca­tion­ist Dr Richard Gu­gushe, 104, two chil­dren – daugh­ter Mama Thandi and son Pro­fes­sor Tshepo Gu­gushe – four grand­chil­dren, Lumko, Du­mile, Mx­olisi and Nozipho, as well as great-grand­chil­dren.

All ef­forts to con­tact Mood­ley for com­ment were un­suc­cess­ful.

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