ETHEKWINI councillor Mmabatho Tembe has called for urgent action to be taken on a growing list of problems that have arisen at Stellawood Cemetery. On top of the list is a severe lack of maintenance on what Tembe describes as one of Durban’s biggest and oldest cemeteries.
Tembe said she had addressed a number of the issues with officials in the Parks Department, but little had been done. Issues raised included the abandoned building at the top end of the cemetery which had now been taken over by vagrants.
“I have brought this problem up at District seven meetings with the Parks Department and they are aware of it. People are living in the building, which is getting dilapidated. This could be utilised as an office,”she said.
She also brought to their attention the fact that seven light poles in the cemetery had been vandalised, causing great concern. Tembe said the poles had been cut off near the base, vandalised and left lying on the ground surrounded by glass.
“I will be investigating why so many light poles have been cut down. If this was done by the municipality, I want to know what the plans are to erect new lights. As it is the cemetery is badly lit,” she said.
ALSO READ: Pesky thieves target cemetery flower stall
Tembe said in general the top section of the cemetery was badly maintained. She said grass was long, there was evidence of dumping of rubbish and stolen goods such as computer monitors, and she felt the wall at the bottom of the crematorium needed to be fixed.
“I have requested time and time again that DSW and Parks place dustbins in the cemetery, but nothing has been done. More needs to be done to keep the cemetery in a good condition. Issues are highlighted at every meeting and with an official on site but there is no progress at all. Maintenance of the cemetery is only done in parts. If this is a staffing problem, this needs to be addressed,” she said.
She said she had raised the broken wall near the top entrance with the Parks Department. “A tree fell on the wall during the storm in October 2017. It has been almost a year and nothing has been done to fix it. People are using this to gain entrance to the cemetery which adds to the problem of vagrancy, drinking in the cemetery and dumping,” she said.
Responding to a query by Berea Mail, eThekwini Municipality’s Deputy Head of Communications Mandla Nsele, said: “These damages were as a result of the storm last year. Insurance claims have been completed and submitted and we are awaiting feedback on the matter from the insurance company.”
The municipality said it would revert with information on alleged vandalism of the light poles.