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Mowbray Cemetery upgraded with geotagging technology

Surveyors at Mowbray Muslim Cemetery. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent News

Surveyors at Mowbray Muslim Cemetery. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent News

Published Nov 14, 2023


Cape Town - The Mowbray Muslim Cemetery was the site of much activity this weekend, as several families entered carrying cleaning tools and flowers to tend to the gravesites of their loved ones during the Community Cemetery Weekend.

Community Cemetery Weekend is a joint clean-up initiative by the Moslem Cemetery Board and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), to get members of the public involved and encourage responsibility in tending to the individual graves of their loved ones.

By Sunday midday, over 1 600 people had already entered the cemetery. A feature of the Mowbray Cemetery Weekend was the launch of new software technology which would allow undertakers to book gravesites more easily, and allow visitors to readily locate the grave of a loved one, using their mobile device.

Muslim Cemetery Board chairman and MJC Burial Administration secretary Faizal Sayed said the launch comes after three years in development.

“Generally, undertakers could be queued up in the morning trying to get paperwork through, it’s a manual process. Now, graves that are being dug are already geotagged. This means they go in at night, upload the documents, all the statutory documents, and the system responds to them, payments are made, and they don’t need to come in the next morning.

“The graves have been allocated by the system already and it’s all electronic. Also, that data now gets stored, so for undertakers the run-around in the morning is over. It’s something of the past.”

Visitors would now also be able to locate an identified grave using their mobile devices.

“The big thing for the public is the fact that we can identify a grave; we think we’ve got most of them, they are now all geotagged. This means if you go to our website, there will be a link that says ‘Find a Grave’. You can type in the deceased’s name and the year they passed, and when you come into the cemetery with your mobile device, the system will walk you right to that person’s grave.”

This was made possible with Parker Surveys and software developers. Parker Surveys were also on-site at the weekend to assist with unidentified graves, with members of the public called in to help with this process.

According to Sayed, estimates of unidentified graves range between 15 000-20 000.

Parker Surveys Operations manager Cassiem Parker said this would make it easier not just for families but for any other person who wanted to visit a grave but did know where it was.

Days before, 3D imaging drones flew over the cemetery for the process of creating 3D models of the cemetery.

On Sunday, the Palestinian flag was raised to show support and solidarity; a Turkish oak was planted by the Turkish Embassy and Consul-general in Cape Town, Sinan Yesildag; and the Islamic conversion of a priest took place.

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