Muslims in Caledon complain about lack of burial space
Cape Town - The Muslim community in Caledon demanded answers from their municipality after residents were forced to bury their loved ones in neighbouring towns more than 37km away.
This after Caledon Cemetery apparently ran out of space for Muslim burials because their graves were allegedly filled by non-Muslims.
Zane Cupido, Caledon Overberg Muslim Society's founder said he had written to the Theewaterskloof Municipality, without success, after he battled to secure burial land.
Cupido said after having numerous meetings and writing to the municipality, and with help from the SA Human Rights Commission, land had been allocated to accommodate 112 graves since 2004.
However, he said in 2014 the graves meant for deceased Muslims were filled by non-Muslims.
"We have already had an instance where some of our members had to be buried in Wellington, after it was discovered that the piece of land set aside for us has been used by people not of the Muslim faith," said Cupido.
The ANC municipal chief whip Raymond Nomgxaza said he received a letter from the Muslim community in Caledon, and was expecting to meet the municipal manager to discuss the matter today.
Moslem Cemetery Board secretary Fazloodien Abrahams said the current position of their members in Caledon having to drive more than 37km to bury their loved ones was “atrocious and a grave insult to a tolerant society”.
Abrahams, said the time, cost and effort becomes unreasonable, unfair and unjust, not only to the family of the deceased, but also to the the other funeral procession attendees.
"It creates a huge burden in cost for the family to regularly visit the grave of their loved ones. These regular visits are a common practice within our religion.
Theewaterskloof Municipality spokesperson Hugo Geldenhuys said initially the Chavonnes Cemetery − the original cemetery − provided a designated area (north-west of the site) to accommodate Muslim burials.
Geldenhuys said as there were no Muslim faith burial requests over the years, the space designated for Muslim burials became occupied by other graves, as the cemetery was reaching its capacity.
He said a small extension south of the original cemetery was opened up to accommodate the “overflow” of the original site.
"The environmental impact assessment for further extensions to the western side of Chavonnes has been done and the area has been registered as a cemetery," he said.
Geldenhuys said a designated space of 0.5 hectares was made available for Muslim faith burials, and that the upcoming extension of 15ha would have ample space to accommodate the diverse needs of the Caledon community.
He said the next steps included infrastructure provision for, among others, roads, fencing and water/sewerage, and that this was subject to the availability of funds.