City of Cape Town deaf to plight of owners of Muslim cemetery
Cape Town - Despite the public outcry in January regarding the derelict City-owned land adjacent to the Johnston Road Cemetery, the cemetery board said the City has done nothing to secure the area or remove the illegal dwellers.
The group of vagrants are allegedly using the planks supporting graves as firewood, and had been defecating and sleeping inside the cemetery.
The board said it now has to contend with the expensive and expansive responsibility of acquiring land, while still faced with great levels of vandalism and criminality – without support from the authorities.
Concerned resident Salima Modack said the number of illegal dwellers has increased exponentially.
“Repeated calls for feedback from the City are met with the usual silence and protracted assurances of cooperation. Crime in the area, as well as vandalism and dumping, are all on the increase. The expensive and expansive work being undertaken by the cemetery board is constantly hampered or disrupted due to the lack of correct law enforcement. Residents are continually urged to report matters, with no proper effective enforcement by the authorities.
“Our human and constitutional rights to provide burial sites for our deceased, as well the right to practice our religion, and live in a safe and clean environment, continues to be violated,” she said.
Modack said the City was an accomplice to the vandalism, due to their incompetent and ineffective handling of this sensitive manner.
Johnston Road cemetery chairman Abdullah Salie said despite the security upgrades at the cemetery, more vandalism reports were received.
“Recently, we have been putting in water pumps to comply with the environmental regulations and we are busy installing new boreholes to get our compliance certificates, but last week one of our boreholes was vandalised and it's costing us a lot of money.
“The vagrants are removed from the spot but the following day they come back. We have armed response and a 24-hour security but the area is so large and we have received a couple of complaints from families. The flowers are still disappearing while there are still a number of these guys still sleeping inside the grave yard,” he said.
The City said the “department was looking into this” and will only be able to respond today.