Family outraged as council forces burial at another cemetery
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.