Stealing from the dead: Vandals target Mozambique’s graveyards for scrap metal, copper crucifixes

Picture: Leon Muller

Picture: Leon Muller

Published Jun 3, 2022


Cape Town – More than 50 graves have been vandalised in Mozambique’s Beira city as thieves look to make a quick buck by stealing copper crucifixes and other metallic objects.

Residents of Beira city in the central Mozambican province of Sofala have called for the protection of cemeteries there amid reports of graves being vandalised, according to a local media report on Friday.

At the Mangalane cemetery, more than 50 graves were vandalised in the past month. Criminals remove copper crucifixes and other metallic objects, BBC reports.

According to, the traditional leader responsible for the cemetery, Fernando Jaime, said the acts of desecration have been taking place in broad daylight.

“They take crosses and other objects of dead people they find beside the grave. They put these things together and sell them for scrap,” he told local media.

Carlos Cassicussa, a resident of the Mungassa neighbourhood, said the situation was the result of a degradation of moral values.

“This behaviour is really wrong. The interior ministry should take action. They come to the cemetery even at noon,” he said.

Meanwhile in neigbouring South Africa, graveyard looting is also becoming a growing crisis.

According to an Eyewitness News EWN investigation in April, criminals were taking advantage of the neglect and lack of security at some of the country’s most prestigious graveyards.

EWN reported that the tombstones of renowned journalist Nat Nakasa as well as Bafana Bafana captain, Senzo Meyiwa, were not spared by criminals, as their graves were destroyed at the Heroes Acre in KwaZulu-Natal.

EWN also reported that the family of Mkhonto weSizwe veteran Kebby Maphatsoe had to replace his tombstone twice in recent months.